Well, we are sitting at 37-33 right now, 6.5 games out of the playoffs with no realistic chance of making a push. We were good enough to raise some eyebrows this year, but not good enough to make some noise where it really counts.
As I look back over the season, though, there are a few key games where, if they had turned out differently, might have changed our fortunes for the better. So without further adieu, here are the games I'd like back this year:
- Tuesday, October 30th, at San Antonio (L 91-106). First game of the season. The champs get their rings. We shouldn't have had a prayer. Well, it just so happened that we came to play, and were within a few points with a minute left. Given our propensity to win close games this year, if we had played this game with a healthy James Jones I think we might win it. What a note it could have been to start the season. Alas, it was not meant to be and instead we started with a 3-game losing streak.
- Friday, November 16th, at Philadelphia (L 88-92). As I sat at the bar with my wife, I thought we had this one in the bag--up 73-54 heading to the 4th quarter. A lackadaisical, mistake-filled 4th quarter led to a monumental collapse, and eventually to another losing streak in which we lose 9 of 10. Probably the low-point of the season.
- Wednesday, November 21st, home vs. New Jersey (L 101-106). Our first home loss, there is no conceivable reason we should have lost this game. We know now we are the better team (as evidenced by the shellacking we gave them in January), and if we played this game over 20 more times, I would bet we'd win 19 of them. This loss continues our string of winnable losses following the Philadelphia debacle.
- Monday, December 31st, at Utah (L 101-111). This was a big one. Could have kept our streak going for 5 more games, and it would have given us the tiebreaker against Utah. In retrospect, it seems like the team was a little satisfied with the work they had put in in December. Hopefully next year they'll be a little hungrier in a big game like this against a division foe.
- Sunday, January 13th, at Toronto (L 109-116). Double-overtime thriller, if we had pulled this one out it might have gotten our monumental road-trip off to a great start and given us a little momentum heading into the second half of the season. As we look back, I think we can agree this with the beginning of the end.
- Wednesday, January 30th, home vs. Cleveland (L 83-84). The LeBron game. Seriously, who didn't think this would happen? If I remember correctly, though, we had a foul to give when the ball was inbounded, and Joel was not in the game. Certainly a game all of us would like back.
- Monday, February 4th, home vs. Denver (L 103-105). If the Toronto game was the beginning of the end, then I believe this game was the nail in the coffin. One of the best games between any two teams that I've seen all year--this game was a mid-season slugfest between two teams fighting for their playoff lives. Players for both teams were making big plays and hitting big shots. If not for a few shaky plays down the stretch by a point guard who shall remain nameless, we might have won this one.
Our future is bright, friends, so bring on the Big Fella, and GO BLAZERS!