The Portland Trail Blazers’ playoff push starts now


The Portland Trail Blazers handled the Brandon Knight-less Phoenix Suns on Monday night, capping their fourth consecutive win and second consecutive playoff berth.

Although the Trail Blazers are on a bit of a heater since a miserable road trip, Portland’s biggest game of the season looms on Wednesday in a matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers. As of right now, the Los Angeles Clippers are a half-game up on the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference for the four-seed.

As you know, the Trail Blazers are ahead of the Clippers because the Trail Blazers are, likely, going to win the Northwest Division, which automatically places the them in the four-seed even if they finish without a top-four record.

Although the Trail Blazers would be the four-seed if the season ended today, they would not have home court advantage in the first round because the Clippers have a better record.

With nine games left in the season, a lot can still change, but a win over the Clippers on Wednesday would move the Trail Blazers into sole possession of the four-seed and keep them in position to possibly climb all the way up to the second seed, if the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies slide a little bit further.

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After the game against the Clippers on Wednesday, the Trail Blazers only plays three more games against Western Conference playoff teams: Golden State, Dallas, and Oklahoma City. Of course, if Portland could finish out the season undefeated, that would be their most ideal situation heading into the playoffs. The Trail Blazers would be the second-seed in the West, which would be a ridiculous accomplishment after everything that Portland has been through this season.

Of the teams ahead of the Trail Blazers, the Clippers and Rockets each play four Western Conference playoff teams. The Memphis Grizzlies only play three teams. Right now, Portland is two games back of Memphis for the two-seed.

You might be thinking, “Why does this all matter?”

Mar 30, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; A Portland Trail Blazers

Portland is going to be in the playoffs, which means they’ve got a chance to make a run. Every team in the West has a chance. It doesn’t matter where they’re seeded. For the Trail Blazers, though, it matters a little more than it does most other teams.

Portland is a much better team at home than they are on the road. In fact, Portland has picked up 30 of their 48 wins at home this season, which is the third-most in the league. On the road, Portland is only 18-18 this season. Of the playoff teams in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder are the only team with a worse road record than the Trail Blazers.

Home court could make the difference between making the conference finals or losing in the first round.

Regardless of who the Trail Blazers are playing as the season winds down, or if they’re even winning, the most important thing is that they hit their stride heading into the first round of the playoffs. Last season around this same time, Portland lost three straight games before reeling off nine wins in their last ten games heading into the playoffs.

Although there is no way to prove it, I think that streak paved the way to the wins in the first two games of the playoffs that shaped the entire series with Houston. It’s not necessarily the wins that matter, but it matters that Portland plays well down in these last nine games to build momentum for the tough road ahead in the playoffs.

Next: Blazers and Clippers square off in the Moda Center