The Trail Blazers started off the season on fire. They were the number one team in the West, lighting everyone up with ball movement and strong three-point shooting.
As successful as they were at the time, what they were doing never felt very sustainable. The defense wasn't top notch and nobody was really sure if they were going to keep shooting at such a high level. Their best player in LaMarcus Aldridge was shooting a lot of mid range jump shots, which was great for spreading the floor for the three-point shooters, but that's not the most efficient shot to rely on. There were also questions concerning how a team that wasn't exactly close to the playoffs last season had jumped all the way up to best in the west so suddenly.
Here we are in March and a lot of the skepticism about the Blazers back in November and December appears to have been accurate. Portland did eventually fall back down to earth like many thought they would. Their defense wasn't at the level it needed to be to compete with the West's elite. Their shooting clip, while still extremely effective, isn't solely winning them games anymore.
The Blazers love shooting threes. It's a key part of their offense and they're very good at it. To help create spacing for this, they use cuts and the mid range shooting ability of Aldridge. He's a very good power forward, one of the best in the NBA, and his midrange jumpshot pulls defenders just inside enough to where it's very difficult to camp out on the three-point shooters all night.
The Blazers are also fantastic when it comes to ball movement. They move the ball all over the place constantly creating open looks for Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, and Nicolas Batum. Their flurry of three-point shooting is so dangerous it's a shame their defense isn't better. We would really be looking at a dangerous team if it was.
If the Bobcats are to win against a very good western conference team, my advice would be to force Aldridge to beat them. Aldridge is a very good player who has the ability to have big scoring nights. But I think the best way to beat this Blazers team is to let Aldridge get his numbers and camp out on the perimeter. Contest every three-point shot and don't worry if Aldridge is getting mismatches against McRoberts or an open mid range jumpshot. As long as they stick to defending the perimeter, that might give them a chance as opposed to letting three-pointers bury them.
The Bobcats will also need to score. Their offense has, in my opinion, been mediocre as of late -- too many post up isolations to Al Jefferson and mid range jumpshots from Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker. A large part of this is sometimes that their three-point shooting just disappears and then the offense starts coming apart from there. To get a win Charlotte will need an above average offense.