So I've been thinking about the last few games and how much we can say that they show us about our young Trailblazer team. We obviously play well at home, and play well against teams who are on a back to back. But on the road, and on back to backs of our own, we struggle. That's all well and good, if not totally predictable, but what games will really test this team's mettle down the stretch?
Obviously the games against San Antonio, Houston, and Denver are the most "important" in terms of the standings. If you HAD to choose ONLY ONE to win, it would probably be Denver, just because a division spot could be at stake, and it's the last game of the season, (and a home game).
The fact that the San Antonio and Houston games will be played in Texas favors the home teams, given the Blazers track record. Subsequently, many people have already written them off in the loss column. So assuming we lose both of those games, that makes the other three road games (OKC, LAC, and MEM) of greater importance.
Thus the question remains. Which games are the most important tests? The must win at home to finish the season? The shouldn't wins in Texas? Or the Lottery road games?
I think at the beginning of the season I would have said the Lottery games. Last year we were so inconsistent against everyone. I just wanted to beat the teams that we SHOULD beat, and hold a respectable margin against the rest at home.
Halfway through this year, I was probably convinced that those three games would be a lock. So I think I would pick the Denver game. It's a statement game about home court advantage, and proving we are equal to if not better than a division rival and potential playoff opponent.
But now. Near the end of the season. I think it's time to set our sights higher. We need to prove that we can win on the road against good teams. That home court advantage is not a safe bet against us in the playoffs. That we are not done growing. Those games in Texas are the next step in our evolution. Regardless of what happens in the post season, we need to show that we refuse to surrender to low expectations.
Oh, and you will notice I didn't bother to mention the L*kers game. That's because I am more confident we will win that game than any of the others. I saw it in the Blazers' eyes, they hate L.A. almost as much as I do. Plus, we owe them for injuring Rudy.
Stretch this 3 game win streak into 11.