The Portland Trail Blazers haven't had the best 2021/22 NBA season, as they continue struggling to find their touch in a very competitive Western Conference. Damian Lillard's absence hasn't helped them, either, so it's hard for them to uplift their level right now.
Still, head coach Chauncey Billups would like to see a better effort from his players, especially the starters. The Blazers are going through the worst moment of the campaign so far, and the first-year coach isn't happy with how his team is playing right now.
Following an embarrassing 145-117 loss to the Boston Celtics at Moda Center on Saturday night, Billups was anything but pleased with his team by calling out the starters for not being inspired enough to compete against the C's. He called out the starting unit, saying it was the first time he saw a team that needed the bench to inspire the starters.
"We’ve been making a habit of that,” Billups said, via Eurohoops. “Playing really soft at the start of the games and then we depend on our bench to kind of get us back in it. A lot of times they do. Even at halftime, I said to them. “I don’t understand. I’ve never seen a team that needs its bench to inspire our starters. And that sh-t is crazy to me. It’s supposed to be the other way around. We continue to do that. But at the end of the day, we all got to be better. I got to be better, they got to be better. We got to do it together.”
This situation isn't good for the team and the head coach wants to see some changes as soon as possible.
“That competitive fire and that pride,” Billups said when asked if pride is something that is coachable. “That’s something you either have or you don’t have. And that’s not something you can turn off or turn on. That’s unfortunate. We didn’t show any of it tonight. These are young dudes, they don’t know the NBA, they don’t know the politics of the league, they don’t know the etiquette of the league. They don’t know when the game is open and a guy goes crazy… they don’t know what to do. But that’s what our vets should be teaching them. They should know. After tonight, it was embarrassing for them. And I felt like, I wasn’t worried about them. I was more worried and angry at the starters for putting them in that situation. So it’s really a starters/veteran issue. It’s not a young guys issue”
This was the fifth loss for the Blazers in the last six games. They only lost by single digits against the Sacramento Kings on Nov. 24 (125-121). After that, they lost to the Golden State Warriors (115-103), Utah Jazz (129-107), San Antonio Spurs (114-83), and now the Celtics.
It's clear why Chauncey isn't happy with the team's recent form. They need to return to winning ways before it's too late. Billups is well aware of that and he wants the team to wake up and show more heart on the court. The Blazers have a lot of things to figure out. They recently parted ways with Neil Olshey, Damian Lillard is injured and rumors about his exit resurfaced.
The picture doesn't look that promising for the Blazers and nobody knows if they'll be able to fix it.