The All-Star break is almost at an end and the Blazers have 26 games left the rest of the way and some ground to make up to make the playoffs. Portland is 25-31 and five games back of the Memphis Grizzlies in the loss column and only a couple of games up on both the San Antonio Spurs and the New Orleans Pelicans.
A quick couple of highlights:
Home Games: 15x
Road Games: 11x
Home Games vs. .500+ teams: 8x
Home Games vs. sub .500 teams: 7x
Road Games vs. .500+ teams: 3x
Road Games vs. sub .500 teams: 8x
Portland will spend more time at home than they will on the road the rest of the way. This works out to their advantage obviously because jet lag sucks. They are used to it, but they do have a few tough road games against both Boston and Philadelphia on the horizon and the Pacers are a tough team as well.
Looking at the back-to-backs the Blazers managed to somehow draw the Sacramento Kings (at home), Detroit Pistons (road), and the Brooklyn Nets (road). The Kings have played the Blazers tough once this year, but they’re at the point of the season where they are about to quit and who knows what you are going to get with the Pistons or the Nets. There’s a good chance Kyrie Irving and Blake Griffin don’t play in those games.
And speaking of playing, we don’t exactly don’t know when Damian Lillard is going to return. Terry Stotts is holding him out of practice on Wednesday. Will he play against the Pelicans on Friday night or is he going to miss a few games? Dame is tough and he knows what’s on the line. Sadly, we probably won’t know until a couple of hours before game time on Friday.
Let’s take a look at the schedule the rest of the way:
vs. Pelicans – 2/21
The Pelicans always play the Blazers tough, especially Jrue Holiday, and if there isn’t a Lillard to carry the scoring load then this game could get ugly again. There also isn’t anyone to stop Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram will be back.
Prediction: Blazers lose (25-32)
vs. Pistons – 2/23
The Pistons are a mess and even without Dame, this should be a win.
Prediction: Blazers win (26-32)
vs. Celtics – 2/25
Prediction: Blazers lose (26-33)
at Pacers – 2/27
The Pacers are well coached, Victor Oladipo is starting to get his legs back under him, and they are a tough team.
Prediction: Blazers lose (26-34)
at Hawks – 2/29
Thankfully this isn’t a back-to-back. Trae Young will score a lot of points and try to outshoot Dame, but the Hawks are terrible.
Prediction: Blazers win (27-34)
at Magic – 3/2
The Magic are trying, they aren’t very good and seem to be perennially stuck in this position. They have beaten a few good teams and they won’t be a pushover.
Prediction: Blazers win (28-34)
vs. Wizards -3/4
Bradley Beal is pissed off for a lot of reasons, but he’s not leaving Portland with a W.
Prediction: Blazers win (29-34)
at Suns – 3/6
The Blazers owe the Suns and Kelly Oubre a beating.
Prediction: Blazers win (30-34)
vs. Kings – 3/7
The first back-to-back, but it’s a Kings team that isn’t very good and they seem to be getting worse as the year is going along.
Prediction: Blazers win (31-34)
vs. Suns – 3/10
The Blazers get a few days off before they get another shot at the Suns. Devin Booker will have a good game, but not good enough.
Prediction: Blazers win (32-34)
vs. Grizzlies – 3/12
Ja Morant is a video game and he hasn’t hit his rookie wall yet. Does he now or is he a freak of nature? I think Blazers eek this one out.
Prediction: Blazers win (33-34)
vs. Rockets – 3/15
Prediction: Blazers win (34-34)
I have the Blazers going on an eight-game win streak to get back to an even record. This will have them right on the verge of a playoff spot. Things, however, are about to get a little bit tougher after the next game.
vs. Timberwolves – 3/17
The Blazers are one of the few wins the Wolves have this year. I don’t think Karl-Anthony Towns gets another.
Prediction: Blazers win (35-34)
vs. Mavericks – 3/19
Luka Doncic has been a bit snakebit this year and he tends to miss stretches of games. I think he’s back and he hurts Portland. Can’t keep winning forever.
Prediction: Blazers lose (35-35)
at Timberwolves – 3/22
This will be a good night.
Prediction: Blazers win (36-35)
at Hornets – 3/24
The Hornets are not a good basketball team and they have very few good players.
Prediction: Blazers win (37-35)
at Pistons – 3/25
I think the Pistons will be in full tank mode and not even Derrick Rose can save them even as the Blazers flew a quarter way across the country the morning of.
Prediction: Blazers win (38-35)
at Celtics – 3/27
I don’t think the Blazers get this one either.
Prediction: Blazers lose (39-36)
at 76ers – 3/29
The Blazers and Sixers played a classic early in the season, but the Sixers are terrible on the road and almost unbeatable at home. Joel Embiid will be a beast.
Prediction: Blazers lose (38-37)
at Nets – 3/30
I think the Nets are going to put Kyrie on the shelf with some sort of injury to prep for Kevin Durant‘s return the next season and work on getting a higher pick.
Prediction: Blazers win (39-36)
vs. Jazz – 4/2
Prediction: Blazers lose (39-38)
vs. Grizzlies – 4/5
Morant and company are back and this time the teams are going to be within a game or two of one another. I think once again Portland pulls it out.
Prediction: Blazers win (40-38)
vs. Cavaliers – 4/7
The Cavs are a mess and will be in full tank mode and will help the Blazers clinch another winning season.
Prediction: Blazers win (41-38)
vs Nuggets – 4/9
Another tough playoff-type game for the Blazers and this is turning into a great rivalry. Sadly…
Prediction: Blazers lose (41-39)
at Warriors – 4/13
There is a chance that Stephen Curry is back for this game, but I don’t think he’ll log many minutes and the Warriors really want that first overall pick.
Prediction: Blazers win (42-39)
vs. Clippers – 4/15
Prediction: Blazers win (43-39)
Looking at other schedules. I think 43-45 wins are going to be what is needed to get into the playoffs. The Blazers are obviously on the low end of this, the Pelicans I have going to 45 wins and Memphis being right around there. I think the Blazers are on the outside looking in this year.
Though do not count this team out and if you feel like trying to make a lot of money in a hurry, in some outlets, Portland is at +21000 to win the Championship. We’ve seen the Blazers overcome bigger odds and getting a little healthier toward the end of the year could be big. The Blazers have zero reliable depth, yes, Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. are stepping up, but it won’t be enough.