Dear Damian Lillard,
This Blazers team has the potential to be the best team in over 10 years. This team could be better than the Brandon Roy teams that rocked Portland and brought back Blazermania. In 2009 the Blazers won 54 games, but lost in the first round to a Rockets team that outplayed and out-coached them. Today, you and the rest of your team have an opportunity to finish with a better record than that team in the regular season. But you know what? That’s not what Blazers fans should care about.
Damian, I want the Blazers to play well. I want you guys to play to your full potential going into the playoffs. There was a bit of a struggle with consistency going into the All-Star break, and I can point to at least three games you guys should have won. I don’t have to tell you those three games, but they involved the cities of Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Indianapolis. The truth about all of these games is that the Blazers should have won. You should have won. But mistakes were made and referees made calls. What to do? But here’s how I look at it: you guys had a chance in some games with a playoff atmosphere.
So here is what I want from the Blazers after the All-Star break: proof that you guys can win the big ones. The West is a huge scrambled mess right now, and you and I both know any team could beat any other team on a given day. There’s not much you guys can do to pick your matchup, except win games and hope for one of the weaker, lower-seeded teams.
To do that, you’re going to have to come up big. Aldridge has missed some time, and all of a sudden the Blazers injury-free season has come to an end. But us Blazers fans know all about unlucky injuries, and this certainly isn’t one.
You are an All-Star, and this group of games coming up for Portland is huge. There’s no reason why this team can’t be third place in the West, or even better. Consistency is key in all of this. Play like you want to make a name for this city in the playoffs every night. It’s a long regular season and I know you guys will drop one every once in a while, but the key is not to drop a few in a row. Make everyone remember who hit two game-winners in a row on that East Coast road trip. Remember who competed at five events at All-Star weekend. You’ve just reached the tip of the iceberg as far as respect you can gain in this league, so be hungry for more.
There is a way to do this that doesn’t include winning a ton of games in the regular season, and it’s playing well in the playoffs. Everyone recognizes players who step it up during April, May and June. So make it happen. We haven’t seen a series win in way too long. I’m tired of hearing that stat, end it now.
This city needs a big sports win, but it’s not going to happen overnight. Let’s start small, by winning a series. You get there by getting a good playoff seed. You get a good seed by winning regular season games and playing consistently. The Blazers play consistently when Damian Lillard is an All-Star point guard.
Vanguard Sports Desk