FanPost

Race for the division title: Schedule predictions

This is duplicating JScot and Snake's excellent work to a certain extent, but I wanted to look at our schedule for the rest of the season and how we stack up in the race for the division title against the Nuggets.  My guesses for how things shake out are just that -- I don't have any fancy-pants statistical knowledge like those two gents -- but I think it's worthwhile to have all the remaining games in one place.

 

BLAZERS

3/23: PHIL  We should win this game. I'd be more worried about these guys for all the reasons Dave mentioned in his main-page post, but we've been playing great ball the last four games against teams similar to Philly's caliber.  They're on a back-to-back to boot. W, 45-26

3/26: PHO  2-0 on the homestand, here we come! Phoenix is not to be underestimated -- it's a team with proud veterans fighting for its playoff life -- but they're coming into the Garden on a back-to-back against the Jazz. They'll be exhausted from playing at altitude and from getting into Portland at 2:30 AM, and the Jazz will  have beaten them up as only a Jerry Sloan-coached team can. W, 46-26

3/28: MEM  Memphis sucks and we've been outstanding at home against bad teams all year. W, 47-26

3/31: UTAH  I think we get this win.  Utah is coming into Portland on a back-to-back after playing the high-paced Knicks the night before.  Portland is on three days' rest and will be raring to cap off the homestand before headindg out on the road. And the Jazz have been terrible on the road this year against elite WC opposition.  W, 48-26

4/03: @OKC  I don't think we'll have forgotten what  happened the last time we went to OKC.  There's not much of a chance of us looking past this game to the Rockets -- Nate will have the troops too focused for that.  The Thunder are dangerous, but I think we'll pull this one out. W, 49-26

4/05: @HOU Don't give our boys much of a shot in this one.  The Rockets have not one but two elite perimeter defenders to throw at Roy and a bevvy of middling-to-solid big men to hammer him every time he drives.  L, 49-27

4/07: @MEM Did I mention that Memphis sucks? Assuming we don't lose a heartbreaker to Houston that causes a mental letdown, the Blazers take this one. W, 50-27

4/08: @SAS  The Spurs are too good at this time of year and the Blazers are too green to go into San Antonio and steal this game, especially on a back-to-back.  L, 50-28

4/10: LAL  Tough, tough game to call. Both teams are going to be fired up after Rudygate, and the Blazers will be  jockeying for position to boot.  Lakers are on a back-to-back, playing the Nuggets in LA before flying to the Rose City.  But the first game back home after a road trip is oftentimes a tough one...my heart says W, but my brain says L, 50-29

4/11: @LAC The Clippers are the most dysfunctional team in the NBA right now...but on a back-to-back, after a hugely emotional game win OR lose against the Lakers, against a team as talented on paper as the Clippers, heading back out on the road for the last time all year, this has all the makings of a trap game. It says here that the Blazers get the win, but a L wouldn't surprise me. W, 51-29

4/13:  OKC The Thunder are playing for lottery balls. We're playing for home-court advantage.  W, 52-29

4/15: DEN Can we just for a moment imagine the atmosphere at tipoff if this, the final home game of the regular season against our division rivals, decides who wins the Northwest?  Damn this being stuck in Boston! We must win. My fandom won't allow me to consider any other possibility. W, 53-29

 

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NUGGETS

 

3/23: @ PHO  The Nuggets are starting a brutal three-game trip to Phoenix, New Orleans, and Dallas; Phoenix is riding a four-game winning streak and is fighting for its playoff life.  This one could go either way, but I'll give the nod to the Suns based mostly on the fact that they're playing at home and are desperate. L, 45-26

3/25: @NO  New Orleans has won three in a row against cupcakes, but Billups is a tough matchup for Paul.  Again, this could go either way, but I think the Nuggets will get the W, 46-26

3/27: @DAL Dallas has been really up and down over the last six games -- beating us but getting whomped by Golden State, for example.  It's a toss-up, but I think the Nuggets are the better team, and usually the better team Wins, 47-26

3/28: GS Only thing that could make this tough for the Nuggets is that they're coming off of a brutal road trip and it's a back-to-back.  I'll go ahead and give the Nuggets the W, but 3-1 through this four-game stretch would be absolutely outstanding for them. 1-3 is equally likely. 48-26

3/31: NY Don't see the Nuggets losing this game at home. W, 49-26

4/02: UTAH The Jazz will be on a day's rest after having played in Portland, the Nuggets will have rested for two days after laying the whomp-stick on the Knicks at home. Gotta give the edge to the Nuggets in that comparison, plus the Jazz suck on the road like I mentioned. W, 50-26

4/04: LAC See my comment for the 3/31 game. W, 51-26

4/05: @MIN This is the Nuggets' equivalent of the LAC game for us. Back-to-back, heading out on the road to play an inferior opponent, but one that could rise up and bite you if you don't pay enough attention.  They could drop this one, but I don't see that happening. W, 52-26

4/08: OKC The Thunder aren't going to beat the Nuggets in Denver with playoff positioning at stake. W, 53-26

4/09: @LAL At LA on a back-to-back? Ouch. L, 53-27

4/13: SAC Three days' rest against the woeful Kings at home? Chalk up a W for the guys in black hats, 54-27

4/15: @POR We're gonna win this game. Hooray! L, 54-28

 

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Unfortunately, 54-28 is better than 53-29.  If these projections (well, let's be honest, WAGs is more accurate) shake out, the Nuggets win the Northwest. Even a one-game swing the other way isn't enough for us to win, because the Nuggets hold the tiebreaker (which I believe is record against division opponents if head-to-head is tied).

 

This four-game stretch is crucial for the Nuggets then. 3-1 will effectively win them the division; 1-3 gives us the inside lane to home-court advantage. That Utah game will be key as well...I'm going to be pulling for the Jazz in that one. Utah's closing stretch, which I didn't detail here, is absolutely brutal. You can make the argument that they're only favored in 5 of their final 12 games. I'm not worried about them catching us, so I'd rather have them knock off Denver in Denver and give us some help that way.

 

Conversely, if we're the Blazers (and we are, right?) then we have to win every game we should win plus at LEAST one of the Hou/LAL/SAS games to really put the the heat on Denver.  Dropping those three plus one winnable game is the nail in our home-court coffin, and if we win one of those and lose a game we SHOULD win then at least we get a little bit of wiggle room. If that happens, and Denver doesn't play its best down the stretch, then we could steal the division. 

 

Bottom line: be scoreboard watching like crazy for the next four games. We need the Nuggets to suck in this stretch, because I think they'll make hay in their final six or seven games. And cheer like crazy for the Blazers in the Hou/SAS/LAL games, because we really, really need to get one of those to solidify our shot at home-court advantage.

 

Go Blazers!

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