Now is the time to lock it down and start playing Portland Trail Blazers basketball. The team has had their struggles this season as they currently sit with a 19-27 record. However, the season isn’t lost just yet. The Blazers are only half of a game out of the 8th seed in the Western Conference.
Right now, I see the conference in 3 tiers. The elite teams – Golden State and San Antonio. The playoff contenders – Houston, Los Angeles Clippers, Utah, Oklahoma City and Memphis. Then there is the rest of the pack. The Blazers are in the rest of the pack. In order to get to the level they want to be at, amongst the playoff contenders, they must first separate themselves from the rest of the pack. That opportunity to do so is now.
Coming off an impressive overtime victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday, the Blazers come back home for the next five games. They come into this 5-game homestand with a little momentum and plenty of rest. A three day rest in between their latest road trip and current homestand should serve them well.
The Blazers haven’t been able to put together a strong win streak this season. Their longest is 3 games, which they have only done twice. One thing that I’ve noticed for these next 5 games, is that the Blazers will not have to play any back-to-backs games. I like their chances to turn this opportunity into some wins.
L.A. Lakers: JAN 25
First up for the Blazers on this homestand is the Los Angeles Lakers. The team has a lot going for them in this one. They hold a 2-0 season series record over the Lakers. They are coming off an impressive win and 3 days of rest. Not to mention, the Blazers will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of their lone 1977 NBA Championship team during that night. The energy in the arena this night should be enough in its own to lead the Blazers to victory.
Memphis Grizzlies: JAN 27
The Blazers and Grizzlies have played 2 competitive games this year. They have split the series so far, with both team winning their home game. The Blazers won by 6 and the Grizzlies won by 2. Their last outing was in Memphis, and the Blazers couldn’t close it out as a few costly mistakes led to a Grizzlies victory. I expect this to be another hard fought game. Portland will need to find a way to close this one out. With the home crowd behind them, I like their chances.
Golden State Warriors: JAN 29
The Warriors are ridiculously good. Let’s be real, the chances that Portland gets their longest win streak of the season of 4 games by beating the Warriors is slim to none. Assuming Portland wins their first 2 homes games, they would be at a 3 game winning streak and that’s likely where it ends. Golden State did just lose to the Miami Heat the other night. Portland doesn’t have the attractions, or distractions I should say, that south beach has. But maybe, just maybe, the Warriors could get caught slipping on the back end of a back-to-back and Portland can come out victorious. Portland is 0-3 against Golden State this season. They will look to steal one in the series finale.
Charlotte Hornets: JAN 31
The Hornets got the best of Portland last week. In a game that was fairly close throughout three quarters, the Blazers couldn’t do anything right in the fourth. They fell to Charlotte 85-107 after only scoring 13 points, shooting 25% and turning the ball over 5 times in the final quarter. Portland will look to get some revenge from the latest loss in Charlotte. Portland needs to win games like these if they hope to separate themselves from the pack.
Dallas Mavericks: FEB 03
Dallas is a better team than their record shows. They started out the season real rough, winning just 2 of their first 15 games. Since then they have gone 13-16. 13-16 puts the Mavericks around a .448 win percentage. This win percentage would be good enough for 8th place in the west had they played like this all season long.
The Blazers haven’t shown enough as of late to convince me that they will walk away unscathed at home during these next five games. Going 4-1 would be a great homestand. Winning at least 4 games should be the goal here, one game at a time. However, judging by their play thus far, I say they only go 3-2. None of these games from here on out are going to come easy, just as this season hasn’t been easy. This is the NBA. Everyone from Damian Lillard to Pat Connaughton needs to dig deep and remain hungry. Play like it. As they did last year. Time to lock it down and play Blazers basketball.