Jan 20, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) controls the ball during the third quarter as Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) defends at Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Trailblazers 126-113. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers, NBA Playoffs, and an Uphill Battle


 

Amidst the doom and gloom that has been the Portland Trail Blazers’ rapid descent in the Western Conference, I think the panic button has been pressed a few times too often. I myself have been guilty of this just last week, as I bemoaned the fact that the Blazers were two games out of the fourth seed and had the Warriors breathing down their necks.

Then, today, I stopped and really took a long, hard look at the team’s remaining schedule – just kind of soaked it all in. This allowed me to realize a couple of things – namely, there are still 15 entire games left! That’s a huge chunk of the season still to go, and far more than it seems at first glance. Plenty can happen in 15 games (which ideally includes the team getting back on track).

The two-game lead Houston has for the fourth seed (and the last one that gets home court advantage) can certainly be made up, although it will be quite the uphill battle. Even earlier today I found myself thinking about the playoffs as if the Blazers would be outside of the top four seeds, but in reality, attaining home court advantage is still well within the realm of possibility.

If the Blazers do manage to claw their way back in to the fourth seed, they would still probably be facing Houston, who I hate as a potential matchup. However, I would gladly take on Houston, with home court advantage, rather than anyone else, without home court advantage. One factor that works against the Blazers when considering Houston, though, is that they have no more games head-to-head. This will make catching up doubly difficult, and to top it off, if it comes down to a tiebreaker, Houston won the season series 3-1 so the Blazers are disadvantaged there as well.

If my little burst of optimism ends up falling flat on its face, however, and the Warriors do manage to catch the Blazers, I don’t even think that scenario is the end of the world. This would most likely / hopefully take us out of a Houston matchup, perhaps pitting the Blazers against the Clippers.

If home court advantage is already out of the picture, I think a Clippers matchup is a fairly palatable proposition. The Blazers are 1-1 on the season with them, and having watched both games in their entirety, I can assure you the Blazers can hang with them. On the year, the combined scores from the games are 233-234 (in favor of the Clippers), so only one point separates them right now.

When it’s all said and done, there is still a massive chunk of the season left. Yes, it would be nice to see the Blazers get back into their groove sooner rather than later, but in the meantime, panicking this early is likely a fruitless endeavor. There is a lot of basketball left to be played, and when the playoffs roll around, we shall see where the Blazers stand.

 

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  • ripcity_aloha

    Yeah, a few teams at the top are having a difficult time. I think it is mental. As history has shown, excelling during the regular season usually means nothing in the post-season. (Homecourt or not, no wants want to face MEM in the first round)

    The Blazers are still not a team that knows how to step on the throat of their opponent. I don’t think its a talent issue, they just unravel in the final 4 min of each game. Stotts was making great adjustments after the half at the beginning of the year. I don’t see that anymore. Teams are just fresher than us in the final min.