Hot Matthews Huge To Blazers’ Start


VIDEO: LaMarcus Aldridge had a 30-21 game as the Trail Blazers beat the Warriors

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – A number of reasons are emerging to explain the Portland Trail Blazers’ 12-2 start. Camaraderie shown in another comeback win Saturday over Golden State following a second-half dust-up seems just as strong of one as LaMarcus Aldridge‘s monstrous start that included 30 points and 21 rebounds against the Warriors for Portland’s 10th consecutive victory.

Second-year point guard Damian Lillard is scintillating and it sure seems that the new starting center Robin Lopez and a bolstered bench spearheaded by Mo Williams have quickly meshed with the remaining cast, and that all involved are all-in with second-year coach Terry Stotts.

“That inspired us,” said Wesley Matthews, one of three players, along with Williams, ejected after Saturday night’s shoving match. At the time, the Blazers trailed by 10 and then outscored Golden State 42-20 for the 113-101 win. “We got better from it, we got stronger from it. Mo and I were continuing to cheer. They couldn’t hear us, but we were continuing to cheer.”

Need an overlooked reason for Portland’s inspiring start to a hope-filled season? Look at Matthews, the fifth-year shooting guard. If you haven’t noticed, Matthews is shooting the lights out.

Before getting tossed Saturday night, Matthews had dropped five 3-pointers and was 8-for-9 from the floor for 23 points in 26 minutes. It was his sixth 20-point effort in the first 14 games, already one-third of the 18 he had last season in 69 games played.

Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even included on the All-Star ballot. Wesley called the omission “ridiculous,” and he’s certainly making it look that way.

Matthews is making defenses pay for their choices. Left open on the weak side, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard is beating scrambling close-outs and knocking down shot after shot, and at career levels. He’s averaging career highs in scoring average (17.3 ppg), field-goal percentage (56.8) and 3-point percentage (52.5). He’s also averaging a career-best 4.6 rpg, nearly two more a game than last season.

Matthews has helped to super-boost a Blazers offense that is averaging 104.0 ppg, up from 97.5 ppg last season. A year ago they finished 15th in the league in offensive rating (102.9 points scored per 100 possessions).  This season they’ve surged to fifth at 107.1. When Matthews is on the floor, Portland’s offensive rating is 108.2.

Interestingly, Matthews’ usage (percentage of a team’s offensive possessions that a player is used) has dipped from last season (19.1 percent to 17.2 percent, ranking 69th among guards) as his shooting percentages have soared.

His effective field-goal percentage (adjusted for made 3-pointers being more valuable than 2-pointers) is an astounding 70.3 percent, second in the league among guards behind New York’s Pablo Prigioni, who plays 18 mpg compared to Matthews’ 34.0 mpg. Last season, Matthews’ eFG% was a mediocre 54.0 percent.

No guard in the league boasts a higher true shooting percentage (adjusted to include the value of 3-pointers and free throws). Matthews is at a whopping 71.4 percent, up from 57.4 percent last season.

The Blazers’ teamwork and tenacity are proving that their win streak is no fluke. Matthews might not be able to keep up his scorching start to such a degree, but if he remains anywhere close, Portland is going to continue to be a team that leaves defenses scrambling for cover and searching for answers.

39 Comments

  1. vinsanefan says:

    I bet the Jazz are really missing Wes Matthews right now. In retrospect it was a terrible move not to resign him (or match the offer the Blazers made I can’t remember exactly how he left).

  2. pjkeady says:

    The blazers have actually been struggling quite a bit. LA and Lillard have been having rough shooting nights and the blazers team combines for less than 45% FG in these games and yet they are still winning. As others have said, they have lots of room for improvement. Bad teams dont beat good teams when they are struggling in the FG% category, so they must not be a bad team this year.

    Wes will probably come down a little in FG% over the year, they all do . . . but he would be the first to tell you, its not about his numbers, its about the end result of the games. The most impressive thing about this team is the teamwork and ball movement they are showing. They can beat you inside with LA or a driving Lillard/Batum – or they can kick it out and have 3-4 VERY good 3-point shooters on the wings. Their defense is a work in progress, but when it is all clicking together they are easily the best team in the NBA (just ask the Spurs).

    The question will be those flashes of a complete team we see from time-to-time, can it be turned into a more consistent thing for a full game and then can it be sustained over long stretches of time? As Lillard said, they have to stop playing from behind and starting out slow or it will bite them one of these times.

    If they put it all togeether and remain consistent, look out…this team is the real deal. Anyone who disagrees didnt watch the third quarter against the Bulls or the fourth quarter against the Warriors.

  3. Rich503 says:

    Blazers havent played that well…they play ok for 3 quarters and amazing for 1…once we gel and 3j is back then watch out, 55-27, 4th seed…call vegas and put a g on it…Aldridge should start all star, wes and dame in the 3, dame in the drills contest again and why not Nico in the dunk contest…ITS A GREAT DAY TO BE A BLAZER!!!

  4. Ben Hosk says:

    Wesley is playing his best basketball, ever and like the rest of the team has given us Blazer fans, simply a fantastic start of the season.
    For the NBA to have names of players who start out the season injured, not playing, is an insult to all fans. When injured players make it back, they have their chances through the coaches, that do get to insert their choices on the two teams. But to ignore Wes, at this point, is beyond comprehension, not to mention intelligence!
    Blazers will have three AllStars this year; LA, Damion and Wes. -GO BLAZERS

  5. cwd314 says:

    Always knew Wes was nice.. he’s always been underused n underrated. Consistency was a big issue but it seems he’s crossing the line now. Good for him.

  6. Tonyyy says:

    Why are blazer wining games? Because you have your 5 starters that can score 30+ points anytime, add some bench depth like Mo williams and your gold .Rip City keep blazing,

  7. jake s. says:

    fun group to watch this season

  8. T-Rave says:

    Anyone else have trouble using the all star voting website to vote? It’s infuriating, I go to click add for each player and nothing happens and it just takes me to the top of the page as if my click “add” player did anything. tried on three different browsers to no avail. Also, there’s no all star voting on NBA gametime app for android so that’s a bunch of balogne too.

  9. Herr says:

    The thing about the Blazers is they haven’t played exactly “great” basketball. They are just finishing great. The past couple of games Mathews has been the difference in the first half when Aldridge and Lillard are having TERRIBLE games. After that, Aldridge and/or Lillard hit big shots. Add Batum to that list even. Wesley has been fantastic and probably playing the best basketball out of any Blazer.

    When we get competition, I’m sure we’d lose. But this team isn’t a fluke. They truly haven’t been playing great basketball. In fact, some of it has been painful to watch. But they get it done. It’s just scary, for other teams at least, to know this team has a lot of room for improvement and hasn’t seen a single loss in 3 weeks.

  10. blanch says:

    ^ Jon Porter is that you?

  11. JonP says:

    Portland always starts good, but ends up coming up short at the end
    Its too early to say ita not a fluke

  12. TS says:

    If you wonder what the biggest key to the Blazers 10 game winning streak is, there’s actually 2 of them.
    1) Wesley Matthews is outplaying and outshooting a lot of guys in this league.
    2) The Blazers new Center Robin Lopez is playing tremendous basketball.

    • dd def says:

      boy and is he! i knew mathews was good and that he works his a off to get better always. i mean, they asked our gm to put a barber chair in the gym so they didn’t have to leave for a haircut. but he’s still been a wonderful surprise. and RoLo, i knew we were getting defense and boards. the double-doubles are a little extra bonus though!

  13. okc2014 says:

    The Portland Trailblazers are doing fantastic… So far………

  14. BRoy4LIFE says:

    Bout time somebody says somethin about this team. This squad has one of the most efficient startimg line-ups in the league and their bench is solid. They will be getting more recognition from here on out guarunteed. Also there is no explanation for Wes not being on the all star ballot…aside from favoritism on the NBAs part for certain teams/fan bases. As they clearly shocase more teams/players above others.

  15. Robin says:

    Aldridge is a loyal guy. I don’t think he even wanted to leave Portland… Portland are playing TEAM basketball right now and they are dangerous! NBA should include Mathews in the NBA Ballot and apologize to him publicly. Lack of respect…

  16. 007 says:

    It’s understandable that Wes is balling right now I will be the first to acknowledge it. All reals fans know the Blazers success is coming from their depth. Williams and Lopez are key but pair them with Wright and Robinson you have added four quality players three that come off the bench. Lopez adds a legit 7 footer, Wright is athletic swing man almost like Batum, Williams is cagey veteran who never met a shot he didn’t like, and Robinson a lottery pick that seems to be on the cusp of turnin his career around. Now the bench that was more pathetic then Miley Cyrus’ cakes is appearing to be quite solid.

    Upon the return of the Rookie and relative health I can see the blazers in the playoffs for sure.

  17. Willy Spurd says:

    I remember his Dad played with at Wisconsin, then the Lakers title team. Great to see him playing great! Blazers are the new bad boys of the NBA. All Star team, forget about it!

  18. jb says:

    Love the start by Portland they have battled so many injuries and bad luck over the last decade hope they keep it up and make a top 6 seed in the west.

  19. evansilverstein12 says:

    and you didn’t even mention that Wes is mostly known for his defense.

  20. dd def says:

    so incredibly stupid that mathews is playing amazing basketball consistently every night on a current top western team and got left off the ballot, but kobe makes it without logging a single minute since the playoffs? the all-star game has nothing to do with what a player is doing it’s all political and about what they’ve done in past years. and 5 pelicans made it onto the ballot too, which also doesn’t make sense over mathews.

    • Tucker says:

      I think you forgot that the benchers for the All Star game are chosen by the two top coaches of both conferences. He still has a chance of making the All Star team. I also noticed that it looks like teams made their All Star ballot nominees before the season even started. Derrick Williams of the Timberwolves was/is on the ballot and he’s not doing anything lol. Also the year that Kevin Love got his first All Star selection, Yao Ming was selected as the starting center for the West despite not playing a single game. What the NBA should do is just let you vote for whoever you want to. Just pick a team you want, then pick any player on that roster that you want to be an All Star. Simple and would produce the same results for the most part except that it gives people you didn’t expect to have a big season a chance to be voted on in the early going of the all star ballot. NBA has a very small almost unnoticeable spot where you can do write-in votes for all stars. It’s almost like they don’t want you to do write ins they make it look so bland and unnoticeable.That’s not really cutting it, NBA. Like it or not the layout of your website has a lot to do with the all star voting nowadays. Stop short changing good players that you didn’t expect to have breakout seasons. It’s unfair and just plain stupid. There’s a very simple solution to this issue and you NBA staffers should fix it.

    • emo hamster says:

      Blazers are a very small market, NBA does not make money off of small markets. They will be forced to drop games soon. Follow the monies for the next champ.

    • Feekin says:

      I COMPLETELY AGREE. The Pelicans are what? 6 and 6? Please tell me one player who has made a bigger impact on the pelicans than Wesley had made on the Blazers. Right now, he brings the most energy. He brings 110%. He’s a lot of the reason the blazers have stepped their game up. I’m just saying. The NBA Allstar Game is a popularity contest. Whatever. It’s cool if Anthony Davis ends the year as a first time allstar and Wesley ends with a ring

    • Blazed duck says:

      Mathews is a “blue collar guy” in a “white collar league”. Go Blazers!

  21. RipCity says:

    The Blazer’s jerseys are awesome, and when we come to your town, we’re going to mop the floor with yours. . .

  22. salEZY says:

    And the thing nobody mentions,Cj Mccollum didnt play a minute yet,and he will bolster that bench.

  23. Tiago says:

    I don’t think Blazers can do anything more than a good regular season. They rely too much on 3pts.

    7 games agains better/playoff teams and 3pts wont help them.

  24. B-Baller says:

    Dear TNT crew, Remember how you said Blazers would be a bad team this year. Time for apologies.. Thanks.

    • MonkeyDScott says:

      I’m a huge NBA fan and know all the teams inside and out. I live in Portland and I have not been this excited about Portland since the Roy days. I knew we were going to be a solid team and was already very excited before the season started. We had the same starters last year, so I knew are chemistry was going to be good. I knew Lopez would be a perfect center. Someone we don’t need to worry about getting shots. Someone to give us energy and hustle. Just block shots and rebound. That’s exactly what he’s doing. Mo Williams is great as are 6th man. T-Rob is a huge energy guy who helps with boards when we need it. D Wright is another great 3 point shooter who helps spread the floor. This team is for real. If you watched the Bulls game and the Warriors game you would see for yourselves. We never win in Golden State, and we came back from a 21 point deficit against the Bulls and out played them defensively in the second half. Go Blazers!

  25. Brent says:

    I love this Blazers team. Excited to see them play at the Palace here soon.

  26. Marc says:

    OMG – those jerseys should be burned.

  27. OKC says:

    No rumors about Aldridge being unhappy anymore I bet lol. Portland looks tough this year.