Despite the Portland Trailblazers' six game winning streak being snapped last night by the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team has been on a roll since the All-Star break. Portland entered the break with a floundering 23-33 record, but has since been 15-6 and are looking more like last year's team that went 44-38 and was the 5th seed in the west. They now sit 1.5 games ahead of the Denver Nuggets with 5 games left in the season for the last playoff spot. Portland's massive improvement is all due to Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic.

Lillard's improvement since the break

Going into the All-Star break, Damian Lillard was averaging 25.7 points per game. Since then he has improved his total by 3.9 points, averaging 29.6 per game. The only player in the NBA averaging more points than Lillard since the break is Russell Westbrook, who is averaging 34.3 per game. He also vastly improved his player efficiency rating (PER) and plus/minus since the break. His PER has gone from 22.12 before the break to 29.07 since, an improvement of 6.95 points. Prior to the All-Star break he was the 339th ranked player in the NBA in plus/minus, since then he has been the 5th best player. Lillard has also made the 4th most three pointers since the break and his three-point percentage is at 48.6%, 14% higher than it was before the All-Star break.

The addition of Nurkic

The Portland Trailblazers traded for Jusuf Nurkic on February 12th, with only two days left before the All-Star break. Following Portland's acquisition of him the 22-year-old Bosnian has possibly been the biggest factor in the team's turnaround. In his 20 games since being traded to Portland, Nurkic has averaged 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.3 steals.

He is also shooting 50.8% from the field and his free throw shooting has been 66%, a massive improvement from the 49.6% he shot while in Denver before the trade.

He has also had 10 double-doubles with Portland. Unfortunately, Nurkic fractured his fibula in his right leg following Portland's victory over the Rockets on March 31. He is expected to miss at least two weeks, as well as the rest of the regular season with the injury.