Just how valuable is LaMarcus Aldridge?
It’s clear the L-Train was needed back in the lineup, the Blazers have won both of their last two games since he has made is return to the team after a injury benched him for an extended time period. He made is presence known, however, the second he got back into action, dropping 25 points and sagging 16 rebounds in his first game back against the Atlanta Hawks. Then came his next game, against a much better, much tougher Chicago Bulls team. Aldridge stated after the game to reporters that he knew he wouldn’t do much offensively in their matchup, so he focused on putting extra effort into his defense. His numbers after the game showed the same thing. He went just 2-10 from the field, but managed to get 4 steals and 13 defensive rebounds.
Just another night for Portland’s all-star and leader, and his return came at the perfect time. Portland has been in a free fall over the last 10 weeks, and whether the team is on the road, or at home, the news of their massive lull period reached their ears. “Look, we all know where things are in the standings and the playoffs,” Coach Terry Stotts said after the game. “Every game is critical.” That’s a bit of an understatement. The Blazers currently sit in fifth place in the west, two games ahead of Golden State. They would like to enter the playoffs in the position they are in today, but more important is the good health of Aldridge as the post season rapidly approaches.
Hopefully these last two games are a sign that the storm is over and the Blazers were able to come out of it ok. They took a lot of hits while Aldridge was out, and it was less than fun to watch them crash like they did, but the great teams can find ways to regain their footing and start pushing forward again. These last few games will really put on display what this team is made of, and we should have a much better sense as to what they will be able to do in the playoffs.