Sports

Blazers’ Defense Is Not An Illusion

For the season, Portland is allowing 87.5 points a game, which leads the league. Again, impressive. But a better measure of defense is provided by basketball-reference.com, which estimates how many possessions each team has in the course of a game.

Portland’s “pace factor” ranks 28th among the 30 teams. That means the Blazers prefer a slowdown game, which limits the number of points scored. And this is where the defense appears especially effective.

The Blazers’ defensive rating is 98.7, which reflects how many points a team allows per 100 possessions. This ranks second in the league. Very, very impressive. Portland’s defensive prowess is not merely a function of its style.

The Blazers’ defense, indeed, has been awesome in the past couple weeks. Greg Oden is a big part of that, which is exactly what the plan was all along. But considering that Oden has averaged 24 minutes a game during that eight-game stretch, it’s also a lot of other guys. And that’s a good thing.

Part of the improvement also is the fact that Portland has faced the likes of Minnesota, Memphis, Minnesota again, Charlotte, and Detroit during that time. But considering the Blazers ranked 13th in the league last year in defensive rating, and 17th the year before that, it’s not too early in the season to say the defense is much improved this season.