Analyzing the Trail Blazers’ remaining schedule (and playoff chances)

We’ve officially reached the point where every game is crucial, so how healthy are the Portland Trail Blazers’ playoff chances exactly?

With the Dallas Mavericks currently bunkering down on the seventh seed with a 36-23 record, it would be virtually impossible for the Portland Trail Blazers to advance any further than the eighth seed position.

The eighth seed seems to guarantee a first-round matchup against the LeBron James led Los Angeles Lakers. Don’t be mistaken, several teams will find themselves in hot pursuit of the final postseason berth nonetheless.

While the Spurs, Kings, and Suns have yet to concede their playoff hopes, they are certainly not the frontrunners in this close race. Instead Portland, Memphis, and New Orleans will soon find themselves jousting for any inch of leverage for the final spot. For that reason, we are going to exclusively examine these three teams and their individual chances.

All playoff odds are determined by FiveThirtyEight’s formula, as seen here.

Portland Trail Blazers

  • Record: (26-34)
  • Games remaining: 22
  • Remaining SOS: 28 (.458 win percentage)
  • Playoff odds: 16 percent

If the Trail Blazers are still trying to make an appearance in the playoffs, losing five of their last six certainly isn’t an ideal way to go about it. While nobody can blame the team for this string of losses — struggling to adapt without their two best players and another pair of starters — this ship is taking on water fast.

11 of the team’s next 13 games are against teams holding sub .500 records. After that, the Trail Blazers finish with 7 of their last 9 against currently slated playoff teams. This means now is Portland’s final opportunity to establish a vice grip on a playoff spot, while the Grizzlies are expected to begin piling on losses to contenders.

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Record: (28-30)
  • Games remaining: 24
  • Remaining SOS: 1 (.548 win percentage)
  • Playoff odds: 5 percent

Current owners of the eighth seed position, the Memphis Grizzlies should appear the favorites to hold their ground and sniff the postseason. Unfortunately, a two-game lead is not likely to be adequate with so many games still on the calendar the NBA’s hardest schedule waiting ahead for them.

Ja Morant has been one of the NBA’s most exciting stories this season, and will likely be the rightful winner of the Rookie of the Year award. Memphis probably won’t be adding much else to the trophy case, however, as the Grizzlies are on collision course to miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

New Orleans Pelicans

  • Record: (25-33)
  • Games remaining: 24
  • Remaining SOS: 29 (.444 win percentage)
  • Playoff odds: 69 percent

While they may find themselves behind the Grizzlies and Trail Blazers at the moment, don’t expect it to last for much longer. Following the return of Zion Williamson, New Orleans is surging. Winners in 8 of their last 12 contests, the Pelicans are only picking up more momentum.

Even more concerning for Rip City fans, two of those wins came against the Trail Blazers themselves. The Pelicans defeated Portland at an average margin of 17 points between the two games. With the second-easiest remaining schedule laying ahead of them and practically a fully healthy roster, the Pelicans won’t have to overcome the same obstacles as their competitors.

While Portland’s regular season schedule officially comes to a close on March 16, these next few weeks will ultimately be what decides their fate this year. With Damian Lillard and a rusty Jusuf Nurkic set to soon return to the lineup, they’ll have to pull out all the stops to best their competition. If they fail in doing so, we just might be hearing Portland’s name in the draft lottery for the first since 2013.