With their win over New Orleans on Sunday, the Portland Trail Blazers reached a couple of notable milestones. For starters, it was their 50th win of the season. And, more importantly, it clinched the Blazers’ first playoff berth since 2011.
The Trail Blazers franchise has been in existence for 44 seasons. Despite a poor stretch this past decade (only making the playoffs in three out of the 10 years), the Blazers have been historically excellent at making the playoffs, including an unbelievable 21-season streak from 1983 to 2003.
By clinching a spot this season, the Blazers will have now made the playoffs in 30 out of the 44 seasons that the team has existed – 68% of the seasons. This is in and of itself astounding. While the recent rough patch is what lingers on the mind, upon taking a holistic view, the consistent performance of the team has to be acknowledged.
Getting out of the past, though, and focusing on the now, some similarities echo. The team has also been going through a rough patch as of late this season, and faith in the team is wavering. Yet, again when you step back and look at the big picture, the Blazers just reached 50 wins in a historically strong Western Conference, and they still have a full four games remaining.
This is also noteworthy – the strength of the rest of the conference has appeared to diminish the Blazers’ accomplishments a bit. Fifty wins is an admirable accomplishment, and not something that a team can just walk into. This team has earned every win, and should be commended for what they have done thus far.
Finishing up with the happy thoughts, there is a lot of room for improvement with regards to the team’s playoff record. The Blazers have not been out of the first round since the 1999-2000 season.
At some point, making the playoffs isn’t enough anymore. The team, and the whole city, are desperately starved for a deeper postseason run. Sure, going to the playoffs is nice enough, but after getting bounced in the first round during their last six playoff appearances, another first-round exit would sting quite a bit.
Assuming things hold as planned, the Blazers will be looking at a first-round date with the Rockets. Because of that aforementioned rough path, they will probably do so without the comfort of home-court advantage. Despite the obstacles, it’s time for the team to take the next step.