April 9, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Arron Afflalo (4, right) reacts after an injury during the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Trail Blazers 116-105. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
#4: Portland Trail Blazers:
Record: 51-28 / Last ten: 7-3/Conference Record: 31-18
Northwest Division: Won Division Western Conference: 4th (currently do not have home court due to record)
Portland have arguably the best starting five in the Association when they are healthy. They replicated their quick season start again in 2014-15 while taking advantage of the injury ravaged Thunder. At the trade deadline buoyed by the fact LaMarcus Aldridge had opted to postpone surgery they added the one key thing missing from taking them to the next level: bench depth.
Then shortly after Wesley Matthews – the heart and soul of the Blazers went down with an Achilles injury and this week his replacement Arron Afflalo injured his shoulder.
Portland isn’t blazing into the post season as much as they are limping. Nicolas Batum is another x factor who hasn’t been healthy all season and the loss of Matthews is resulting in a regression of their defensive growth from early this year.
Ultimately the injuries to the Thunder allowed Portland to cement the four seed and although they can still get home court in the first round it’s unlikely.
Memphis already holds the edge in this regard and one more win by the Clippers and Spurs will give them that edge. For the Rockets they need to win 2 of their final 3 games to claim the edge and that’s only if the Blazers win all 3 remaining games.
Suffice to say if there is a team the opponents are coveting to meet in the first round it’s Portland. Reports are Afflalo will miss between a week or two with the shoulder injury. This is not good news for Portland given the loss of Matthews coupled with Aldridge and Batum playing through injuries. Basically it feels like as much as the Blazers will battle, they just won’t have the health to carry them out of the first round.
Their likely first round match:
It’s looking like the Blazers will meet one of the Clippers, Grizzlies or there’s a very good possibility they’ll get a rematch of last year’s opponent the Rockets. And as highlighted the Blazers aren’t looking good to win home court given they have just 51 wins. They do hold the tie break in the season series versus Houston, however if they lose 2 of their 3 remaining games they’ll start on the road or if Houston win 2 of their 3 remaining games they would get home court (or any combination of those).
Houston for their part have been the most ravaged of the current playoff seeds sitting behind only the Lakers and Timberwolves with most games lost due to injury. Adding to that list was the loss of starting point guard Patrick Beverley and Donatas Motiejunas this week due to a back ailment.
It just feels like poetic justice that these two teams would lace them up in a rematch and I have a feeling it’s exactly what will happen. And of course there is always THIS:
Best Position Spurs can finish: 54-28: Southwest Division Winner, second seed
Worst Position Spurs can finish: 51-31: Same, makes no difference in their seeding, however home court is still possible
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