Would the Portland Trail Blazers be better off as the sixth seed?


Every day it’s becoming more likely that the Portland Trail Blazers will finish with the sixth-best record in the Western Conference, but when the NBA Playoffs start, Portland will be the fourth seed without home court advantage in the first round.

By now, you know the NBA’s funky division rule, which makes division winners a top four seed regardless of where their record places them in the playoffs. However; if the fifth seed has a better record than the fourth seed, the fifth seed gets home court advantage in the first round.

It’s basically the NBA’s way of saying “We want divisions to matter, but we don’t want divisions to matter that much.”

Normally, the team moving into the fourth seed from the sixth seed would have an advantage. But, that’s also assuming the third seed is actually a better team than the fourth or fifth seeds.

This year in the West, I don’t know if that’s the case.

Western Conference standings (by record) through April 8

1. Golden State Warriors: 63-15 

2. Houston Rockets: 53-24

3. Memphis Grizzlies: 52-25

4. L.A. Clippers: 52-26

5. San Antonio Spurs: 52-26

6. Portland Trail Blazers: 50-27

7. Dallas Mavericks: 46-31

8. New Orleans Pelicans: 42-35

At worst, Portland is going to finish with the sixth-best record, but it’s very possible that seeds 2-5 could look very different by the end of the season.

Apr 1, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick (4) reacts after making a three point basket during the fourth quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

As always, the playoffs are about matchups more than anything.

If the season ended today, the Trail Blazers would be matched up with the Clippers, and the Clippers would have home court advantage in the first round. Portland and LAC have met four times this season, and the Clippers have won three of those games. Although Portland has come out on the losing end three times, all four games have only been decided by 19 points total. I repeat, 19 points in four games.

Based on how tough the Trail Blazers have played the Clippers and vice versa, this is the playoff matchup I want to see. I think the series would go seven games, and that’s always exciting. There is still a lot of basketball left, though.

It’s also equally likely that Portland will see San Antonio in the first round in the four-five matchup. If that’s the case, please, please, please, Adam Silver, change the rule and make Portland play as the sixth seed!

Based on how last year’s playoffs went down, I don’t want to see the San Antonio Spurs anywhere in the playoffs, especially with how well the Spurs are playing right now. They 18 of their last 21 games, handily disposing of several playoff bound teams in each conference.

Throw out the NBA’s weird division rule, and this season, Portland would be matched up to play the Memphis Grizzlies right now if they were the sixth seed. Memphis has struggled lately, but they have handled the Trail Blazers on multiple occasions this season. The Grizzlies’ suffocating defense and dominant low-post game has been too much for Portland to overcome.

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With a few games left in the season for each team, all of this could change and swing in or out of Portland’s favor.

Right now, Portland should want LAC or Houston in round one, and both are definitely still possibilities. At the same time, Portland should want to avoid Memphis and San Antonio.

Ultimately, the fourth seed looks like the better scenario for Portland, but if the Rockets or Clippers finish in the third seed and Memphis or San Antonio finishes fifth, I think I’d like Portland’s chances to advance more with a different matchup, even without home court advantage.

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