Last night began what is the Blazers' easiest extended stretch of the season. It includes a whopping 9 games against teams with losing records. It includes 8 games against Eastern Conference foes; the Blazers have lost just 2 games against the East this year.
The Blazers survived a nasty 4-game stretch without Brandon Roy, playing some tough opponents and coming away with a 2-2 record. Still, they are in a position that's both promising and precarious. A hot streak, and they could vault themselves to #3 or even possibly #2 in the West, with some breathing room as far as playoff seeding is concerned. But they are only one-half game out of the #9 spot right now -- with some tough games coming up later in the season (they haven't even been to Texas yet), the Blazers need to create some space for mulligans.
Here are the 10 games, including last night:
vs. GSW (W)
At the very worst, the Blazers need to win 7 of these games. 8 would be even better. 9 is very doable, if the team's on its game. Only one of these games is against a truly quality opponent (Cleveland), and it's a home game.
An 8-2 stretch would put the Blazers at 29-16, with likely some sepraration between them and the West's #9 team. It could even put them in the division lead.
We've got Roy. Oden's starting to round into form. Outlaw seems to be reclaiming his game. This is it!