Crossposted at Loaded Orygun...where Blazers news happens!
After finally shaking off the Washington Wizards, the Blazers have reached what amounts to the quarter pole of their season. Technically they'll be 1/4 through at halftime of the Boston game tomorrow night (20.5 games x 4 = 82), but for the sake of simplicity we'll call it 25% today. In the middle of a five-game road trip, a six-game winning streak and a seven-game skein against the East, the Blazers are playing stunning .700 basketball at 14-6--good enough at the moment for the top slot in the Northwest Division.
Being the numbers nerd that I am, I started extrapolating. I don't like saying "they're on an XX-win pace," because things just don't work that way; a team does not win and lose at the same pace all season, typically. But what I am willing to do is to select a wins goal, and frame out how easy/difficult it will be to get to that goal. So rather than say "at this pace the Blazers will win 57 games," which scares me just to say under my breath for fear I'll jinx them, I want to assess the likelihood at this point that Portland gets to 50 wins, surely enough for a playoff slot and perhaps the benchmark between pretty-good and top-caliber.
There are 12 games left in 2008. Several of them are fairly tough games (a home and away back to back with the Nuggets, a home rematch with the Celts, and games against Dallas and Phoenix as well), but let's give them the benefit of .500, and say they go 6-6 the rest of December.
That would make the Blazers 20-12 on New Year's Day...meaning that over the final 50 games of their season, Portland would need to win just 6 out of every 10 games after that to reach 50-32. And in 2009, the schedule gets much, much easier--four games against Oklahoma City will do that for you.
So put on your analytical cap: does it sound realistic that the boys can go .500 the rest of this month, and .600 the rest of the season after that against weaker opponents? Is a 50-win season--or better--really doable? I don't know about yours, but my analytical cap is fairly shouting "Hells, yeah!" at me.