“If the Portland Trail Blazers get in the Playoffs, they will beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.”Charles Barkley – TNT Analyst
That’s a bold prediction from TNT analyst Charles Barkley, who could barely keep a straight face once he said it.
This got me thinking about what the realistic chances are for Portland to reach the top of the mountain. To start, they’re by far one of the teams in the league that greatly benefited from the season’s interruption. They will be without Trevor Ariza — arguably their best perimeter defender who opted out of the restart — but gain both preferred starters Jusuf Nurkić and Zach Collins, who’ve been kept out all year long thanks to injuries.
This boost to their roster is a great help for their chances, but the team is hanging on by a thin thread at snagging that elusive 8-seed spot in the Western Conference Playoffs. The Blazers are 3.5 games back of the Memphis Grizzlies and hold just the slightest lead over the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings, having played two more games than those above. I add that the team faces the fifth-toughest remaining schedule, with games against the Celtics, Rockets, Nuggets, Clippers, and 76ers.
The team would have to be nearly flawless in all of their remaining games and grind out several huge wins to gain access to the Playoffs. Then, once in, would be faced up against the calm, rested, top-seeded Lakers. Predictions are in, giving the Blazers a 12% chance at making the Playoffs with less than 1% at making the Finals, and winning. It’s not looking great for Portland, but if they pull it off, I’m sure it would be one of the greatest runs in NBA history.
Side Note: 10 days left until the NBA restart.
Catch you Monday.