The schedule for the Portland Trail Blazers was announced, and it looks like a schedule that will play in favor of Rip City.
According to Basketball Reference, the Blazers had the third most challenging schedule. Also, they were one of the worst defensive teams in the league, allowing 115.1 points per game on 47.9% from the field. On top of that, they were at the bottom of the list offensively, shooting 44.2% from the field while scoring 106.2 points per game, the fourth worst in the league. Why do I bring these stats up? For one, the team was decimated by injuries and turbulence. For example, Ben McLemore and CJ Elleby played the most games on the team (64 and 58, respectively). While you can never predict injuries, we would hope this wouldn’t happen this year. With the addition of Gary Payton II, Jerami Grant, and a full year of Justise Winslow and Josh Hart, I can say that they should not finish as low as they did last year.
Even though the Blazers had some issues last year, they almost doubled the number of wins at home as they did away. Portland won seventeen games at the Moda Center while only winning ten away from home. The schedule plays well into that. Their first seven games feature five at home versus the following; Suns, Nuggets, Heat, Rockets, and Grizzlies. Some hard hitters like the Suns, Nuggets, and Heat, but if they can steal a couple of those games right off, they can ride that momentum away from home.
Going into January, the Blazers feature eleven home games. They will be matched against the Pistons, Magic, Cavs, Mavs back-to-back, 76ers, Lakers, Spurs, Jazz, Raptors, and Hawks. In most of these matchups, the Blazers split the series, except for the Spurs (0-4). Their team did not feature the likes of Damian Lillard, Nurk, or even Josh Hart, so I can see the Blazers going positive here.
In March, the Blazers have nine of their last fourteen games at the Moda Center. They will face the Pelicans, Knicks, Celtics, Clippers, Bulls, Thunder, Pelicans, and Kings back to back. The Pels are a big question mark, especially surrounding Zion Williamson’s health and Brandon Ingram’s sudden transformation into a lookalike of Childish Gambino. Regardless, the games against the Kings and Thunder are certainly winnable. This stretch of games could be the most crucial stretch of the year to get into the playoffs.
Other Schedule Notes
The Blazers match up against the Rockets, Clippers, Grizzlies, and Pheonix three times this year. When the Blazers matched up against Pheonix last year, they were 1-3, but one of those losses was in overtime, with a fully healthy Blazers team.
Portland will also be on three primetime games. Their first would be against the Memphis Grizzlies on November 2nd, the second against the LA Clippers on November 29th, and the New Orleans Pelicans on March 1st.
Overall, the schedule benefits the Blazers with opening, closing, and a middle section of the year all at home. Given their record difference last year at home versus away, one would think the Blazers have a shot at the playoffs.