Much like the defending champion Heat, the Blazers are in the middle of a rough stretch that has seen them drop seven of their last 11 games.
The difference in Portland is that all but one of the losses have come against teams currently in playoff position in the standings — not that it was any consolation after being blown out in Charlotte by a 30-point margin on Saturday.
Wesley Matthews wasn’t ready to admit that the loss was a sign of a deeper issue, however, and had an unusually strong response to the mere suggestion of it.
“I don’t think it’s a larger issue,” Wesley Matthews said. “We played bad. They played well. They played like they had something against us from what we did to them at our place. We didn’t shoot it well the first half, they shot it well. Big Al had a good night, Kemba Walker had a good night. They’re a playoff team and they’re all NBA players. We didn’t play well. They played great.”
When a reporter told Matthews he wasn’t sure if it was more appropriate to kill the Blazers for their general ineptitude or dismiss the hideous performance as just one of those nights in a grinding 82-game season, Matthews looked at him sideways and issued a challenge.
“If you kill us, you’re going to look dumb come next game,” he said. “Because we’re going to be a whole new team, we’re going to be the team we’re supposed to be. So you go ahead and kill us. And you’re going to have to come back and see us in the locker room and be like, ‘Aw shoot.’ So I’m just going to save you. Write that. Write it all.”
It’s not like the Blazers are even at full strength, with LaMarcus Aldridge missing his fifth straight game due to a back issue, and there’s no timetable for when he may return. But 30-point losses are troubling no matter the context, and Matthews’ frustration level afterward was completely understandable.
His words carry additional weight, however, considering his team’s next game comes on the road against the equally-cranky Miami Heat.