Rip City fans may have the pleasure of cheering the Trailblazers on against the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland’s longest and oldest rival
This weekend, the Portland Trailblazers executed two excellent road victories, easily dispatching the New Orleans Hornets 112-101 and then gutting out a tough and impressive victory against the red hot Oklahoma City Thunder (formerly the Seattle Supersonics).
This late-season surge, fueled by the resurgence of many of Portland’s injured stars to their usual form, has given Portland a very advantageous position as it relates to the NBA Playoffs.
For starters, Portland has 8 games left (4 home and 4 away), mostly against .500 or lower teams as well as a home game against the Dallas Mavericks, who Portland has had success with in the regular season. If Portland wins the games they’re expected to win, and possibly loses to Denver and to the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland could be on track to win 50 games on the year and lock up the 7th spot in the West, which would guarantee them a date with the aforementioned Mavs.
This is very advantageous to Portland. If they meet the Lakers then they have the advantage of meeting Portland’s longest and oldest rival. They have the luxury of hearing “Beat LA! Beat LA! Beat LA!” ringing from the rafters in the Rose Garden. And they also can take control through the late season slippage by the reigning NBA Champions, especially their 91-75 loss to the Thunder and the way they struggled to a victory over the injury-riddled Houston Rockets.
In addition, if Portland meets Dallas they have the experience of meeting a team that they have had repeat regular season success against, having defeated them in all their meetings this year. Portland knows Dallas inside and out, knows how to beat this team on the road and at home.
Both these scenarios put one simple fact in stone: Portland has a damn good chance of going deep in these playoffs.
Their personnel is coming together, their coach has found the niche that makes this team flow, the veteran presence in Marcus Camby, Andre Miller and Juwan Howard have all had monster years and they seem to have all the momentum in the world right now.
If head coach Nate McMillan continues to preach limiting turnovers, not being afraid to take the shot and playing defense before scoring, Portland could very well shock the world and make their long-awaited return to the NBA Finals.
It’s definitely a long shot, but these Portland Trail Blazers have sure made the NBA look like a bunch of suckers for counting them out before, haven’t they? Perhaps their personnel, their coaching and their playing style will shut down the sharp shooting Mavericks and the superstar play of Kobe Bryant on what may be considered one of the rare ‘Cinderella’ runs in the NBA Playoffs.
It’s a scenario that makes me excited for the playoffs to begin. The NBA says “it’s where amazing happens.” Portland could very well be where another championship happens.
You may contact Will James at firstname.lastname@example.org