Okay, so I crunched the numbers on the rest of the regular season games (as of Apr. 1st) for the Blazers and the rest of their Western Conference rivals (excluding the Lakers and Dallas: LA already clinched the conference title, and barring a massive freak backboard collapse during the opening ceremonies that puts all the Blazers' starters on the IR list simultaneously, I don't think we're in danger of falling past Dallas), and here's what I came up, plus predictions.
Games left (home-road): 8 (3-5)
# against teams over .500 (home-road): 4 (2-2)
GL: 7 (4-3)
+.500: 3 (1-2)
GL: 8 (3-5)
+.500: 4 (3-1)
GL: 8 (3-5)
+.500: 6 (3-3)
GL: 8 (3-5)
+.500: 5 (0-5)
GL: 9 (3-6)
+.500: 7 (3-4)
The most important thing to take away from this is that most teams have worse schedules than Portland for the rest of the season, including Houston (6 games vs. over-.500 teams), New Orleans (7), and esp. Utah (5, ALL on the road). The glaring exception is Denver, whose schedule is ridiculously easy (only seven games left total, four at home, and a measly three against over-.500 teams).
Based on this, I predict the following:
- Denver is pretty much out of reach at this point for the Blazers, or anyone else except maybe San Antonio.
- We have a real good chance of overtaking Houston for the fourth seed and home-court advantage, esp. if we can beat them in the upcoming head-to-head in Houston.
- San Antonio's schedule isn't real difficult, but if they keep playing the way they have been, there's an outside chance we could overtake them for third seed (real outside, though.)
- New Orleans, Dallas, and Utah are not getting any higher than sixth, and one of them might even be out if Phoenix can pick things up (though to be honest, I didn't bother checking Phoenix's schedule, so I don't know how realistic that might be)
- As for the Blazers themselves, their schedule is pretty middle-of-the-road, and there's a lot of games that could go either way. The main reason for crunching the numbers was just to see how it compared with their rivals, and the good news is that it compares very favorably.
- In short, the Blazers prob. won't be any lower than 5th, but prob. not higher than 4th. Which means that in either case, they'll be facing Houston in the first round; the only question is whether or not they'll have home-court advantage.
What do you guys think...?