3rd Quarter Malaise
Last Sunday was a difficult day for us at Blazersog. After jumping out to a 17-point lead against the Celtics, we found the Blazers looking flat in the second half, falling behind by 19 before eventually losing by 10. Watching the next two games in LA, we noticed a similar trend; play great in the first half, only to come out poorly in the 3rd quarter to let the opponent back into the game, and with the case of the Lakers, allow them to win the game. We decided to look back to see how long this trend has been happening. The bad news, its been going on most of February. Here are the point totals in the 3rd quarter for the Blazers and their opponents in the last nine games:
Over this stretch the Blazers have been averaging 16.9 points in the 3rd quarter. The only time the team topped 20 points in the 3rd was against the Sonics, (one of the worst defensive teams in the league). They have been giving up on average 23.4 points, a difference, of 6.56 points. On top of that, this trend has been getting worse, with the last three games seeing the Blazers losing the 3rd quarter on average by 12 points.
The question that remains is why. Is it coaching? Are Nate and staff not making the necessary adjustments at halftime to be successful in the 2nd half? We doubt it. McMillian is on of the top X’s and O’s coach in the NBA. We think the major reason why the Blazers are struggling so mightily in the 3rd quarter is fatigue. The Blazers are the youngest team in the NBA, and for a lot of the players, they are simply hitting a wall. Roy only played in 57 games last season and Aldridge played in 63, but only started in 22. Tonight marks the 58th game of the 2007-2008 season. The Blazers can play a strong half of basketball, but a full game this late in the season is uncharted waters for many of the starters on the team, and it shows in how they look tired when they come out in the second half and consistently leave their shots short. The seven game road trip took its toll on the team in January, and its impact is still being played out today. Our view is that this is a case of growing pains and adapting to an 82 game season. What are your thoughts?