The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night (Oct. 11) to continue their preseason schedule. The 113-104 final score made the game appear more competitive than it actually was, as the Blazers controlled the narrative for the first three quarters. Leading by 25 points heading into the final quarter, the Blazers took their foot off the gas and coasted to the win.

The Blazers moved to 4-1 during the NBA preseason, notching wins against the Suns, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors, and Los Angeles Clippers. The lone loss came in the opening game of the preseason, when the Blazers lost to the Suns, 114-112.

On paper, it appears that the Blazers are ready to begin the 2017-18 NBA regular season and get back to the playoffs. They will close out the practice games by hosting Maccabi Haifa of Israel’s Ligat HaAl League on Friday night (Oct. 13).

Blazers easily beat Suns

Blazers coach Terry Stotts worked with a starting five of Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Maurice Harkless, Zach Collins, and Ed Davis on Wednesday night. The starters didn’t shoot very well from the field, hitting on just 14-of-46 shots, but the bench really picked it up for them. Evan Turner was 5-of-7 for 12 points, Meyers Leonard was 5-of-8 for 17 points, and Isaiah Briscoe was 5-of-6 for 11 points. While shooting just 41 percent from the floor, the Blazers took care of the ball, committing only 15 turnovers on the night.

There are a number of red flags from this game for the Portland Trail Blazers, but also some huge positives. The Blazers out-rebounded the Suns 57-49 and held them to just 37 percent shooting. The Blazers also went 12-of-23 on three-point shots (52 percent), showing how dangerous this team can be on offense. What the team will need is more consistency from the starting lineup if a deep run in the 2018 NBA Playoffs is the ultimate goal.

Blazers dealing with roster changes

The departure of Allen Crabbe, who was traded to the Brooklyn Nets during the NBA offseason, is still something that the Portland Trail Blazers are dealing with. Terry Stotts has been forced to move players around to cover the minutes that Crabbe played and there had been concern that the lack of his three-point shooting could really hurt the team.

Meyers Leonard has stepped up in a big way and appears to be more consistent with his shots. If that carries over into the regular season, then the Blazers have weapons that could overcome the roster changes.

While a lot of the baseball world is focused on the LeBron James injury, the Oklahoma City “big three,” and the returning NBA champions (Golden State Warriors), the Blazers continue to go about their business during the preseason. Most of the key players return for another season and Damian Lillard is ready to lead his team back to the NBA Playoffs. While the team will need players like rookie Zach Collins to step up and provide significant contributions, there is still a lot of talent in Portland. Can they continue growing and pose a threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference?