Blazers Lose Wesley Matthews to Torn Achilles
The Portland Trail Blazers finally appeared to have all of the appropriate pieces in place to make a real run at an NBA title. LaMarcus Aldridge put off thumb surgery, Robin Lopez returned from a broken hand and the team acquired solid depth after trading for Arron Afflalo. Unfortunately, it all may have been for naught.
Per reports, Portland shooting guard Wesley Matthews suffered a torn Achilles tendon in Thursday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks and will be lost for the season. Regarded as an “iron man” in the league, Matthews was well known for being a tough player who played through injuries, once starting 250 straight games and appearing in all 82 games three times in his career.
While he may be an iron man, Matthews is at least down for the count this year, and the Blazers may have a difficult time making up for his lost. The acquisition of Afflalo certainly could help make up for it, but Afflalo was brought in to beef up Portland’s bench scoring. Not only does the team suffer an arguable downgrade at the starting shooting guard spot, but they’ll also take a depth and bench scoring hit, as well.
Matthews was one of the league’s top three-point shooters, converting on a 39% clip on the year, while also being responsible for opposing team’s top wing scorers on the defensive end. Afflalo can hit the outside shot and isn’t a bad defender, but overall the drop-off is clear and will probably be felt.
Replacing Matthews won’t fall just on Afflalo, though. If the Blazers are serious about attempting to make a run to the 2015 NBA Finals, both Damian Lillard and Aldridge will have to seriously step up their games. Someone will have to find a way to make more noise off the bench, too, which could mean Steve Blake, C.J. MCollum or Dorell Wright are asked to do more off the bench offensively.
It’s sad news for such a fiery competitor, especially with the Blazers doing so well and Matthews headed into free agency. Look for Matthews to make a full recovery and be ready to return by the start of next season, but if you were laying down bets that the Blazers would win it all this year, you may want to think again.
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