by Micah Hart
As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.
With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the Portland Trail Blazers, who played three straight from Jan. 23-25.
Every time I see a fan base start to complain about bad luck, or how nothing ever works out for them, I think of Portland. That is not to say that I think Blazers fans whine all the time; on the contrary, I think of the incredible adversity and horrible luck with injuries that franchise has faced in the past few years and how despite that, they’ve still managed to make the playoffs and contend where I believe others would have folded up the tent and gone home.
When this season started with the announcement of another Greg Oden injury setback and then the retirement of Brandon Roy, I assumed Portland was done for. And though it hasn’t been easy, here they are again, keeping their heads above water and competing for the playoffs. If they have the fortitude for that, I’m sure the three-play will be a piece of cake. Let’s go to the scoreboard and find out:
Game 1: Blazers 101, Kings 89 – When you have three games in three nights, it’s great to have a guy like Jamal Crawford available, who on the right night can get hot and carry the team by himself. This was one of those nights, as Crawford sprung for a game-high 26 off the bench to lead the Blazers to an easy win. 2 points (1 for win, 1 for +10 margin)
Game 2: Blazers 97, Grizzlies 84 – So far so good, as Portland picks up another seemingly easy win, this time against the Grizzlies. Marcus Camby did his best Ben Wallace impression in this one, pulling down 22 caroms while scoring only three points. 4 points (3 for win, 1 for +10 margin)
Game 3: Warriors 101, Blazers 93 – Finally away from the friendly confines of the Rose Garden, the Blazers fell short to the Warriors in the final game to fall short of becoming the third team to sweep their three for all. Normally you’d like your chances against the Warriors when Monta Ellis scores only four points, but on this night he dished out 12 assists and Steph Curry picked up the slack with 32 to deny Portland perfection. 0 points
The Blazers finish with 6 total points, which in some ways doesn’t do them justice for their performance (with two +10 wins), but that’s why the third game is so important — it’s the hardest to win, home or away.
Up next: The Detroit Pistons play three straight Jan. 30 – Feb. 1 as they take on the three-play challenge entirely on the road: at Milwaukee, at New York, and at New Jersey.
Three for all Scoreboard:
— Chicago Bulls (13 points)
— OKC Thunder (12 points)
— Atlanta Hawks (8 points)
— Houston Rockets (7 points)
— Portland Trail Blazers (6 points)
— L.A. Clippers (6 points)
— Philadelphia 76ers (6 points)
— Denver Nuggets (6 points)
— Orlando Magic (5 points)
— L.A. Lakers (3 points)
— Charlotte Bobcats (3 points)
— New Jersey Nets (2 points)
— Sacramento Kings (2 points)
— Minnesota Timberwolves (2 points)
— Toronto Raptors (1 point)