With talk now of possibly making the playoffs, let's take a look at the remaining schedules for the top three teams in the Northwest Division:
DENVER - At first glance, Denver has a moderately difficult schedule the rest of the way with a 24-28 home/away slate. Their longest homestand remaining is a three-gamer in the middle of March. After that, they have 6 and 10 home and away with a five game and a four game road trip in that four week span. Twelve of their last sixteen are against the Western Conference.
PORTLAND - A daunting task remains directly ahead for Portland. Twenty-three at home and twenty-eight on the road including outings of seven, four and five games before March 14. Yes, that's a 13-22 home/away schedule between now and March 13! An absolutely grueling stretch. There IS a six game homestand sandwiched in the middle of that Bataan Death March. Mercifully, from that point on it's 10-6 home/away, however 14 of those are against Western Conference foes.
UTAH - By far, the easiest schedule of the three. They have 27 home games and 22 road games remaining. Their longest road trip ahead is a four-gamer in the middle of March. From that point on, they have 10 of 14 at home including a five and a three game homestand. Eleven of those against the Western Conference.
There seems to be a defining point in the middle of March for all three. This is about the time competitive teams make their stretch run. Utah and Portland will be driving for the finish line before home crowds. Denver not so much.
Will Portland have anything left after those long road trips? This is one place young legs and a deep bench can help. Will the use of that zone defense have helped or hindered the team in the late stages of the season? Many questions arise - and at this point, it's all conjecture - but considering the task ahead of these three teams, what do you think?