It's a cliche saying that the playoffs are a different season. Teams step up their games to a new level of intensity with the finish line to the marathon in sight. Physical play is the standard and not the exception, which raises a couple questions:
1. Will the refs be more lax when calling touch fouls on Oden come playoff time?
2. Have the Blazers, as a team, earned enough "toughness credit" from the refs to get neutral rather than unfavorable calls?
I'd hope to see Oden make a positive impact in the playoffs, a part of the season he was brought in to effect. Guard play can get you to the playoffs, but solid post play wins games once you're there. If Oden is able to play without fearing the whistles, we could see the dominant center combination that we glimpsed during the regular season.
I believe the Blazers have developed a bit of demonstratable toughness since the All-Star break. Senior NBA official Dick Bavetta was reffing the LA game where the Blazers as a team made a stand against the evil empire. I believe that we earned a bit of respect from him in how we handled that, and that such respect will spread and pay dividends come playoff time. I don't think we'll see any star treatment, but I think we'll see fewer obvious bad calls.