The All-Star Break is dead and gone. Paul Pierce is the three point champion, redeeming himself after a poor showing in 2002. After a dry and boring dunk contest, the short man, Nate Robinson, emerged victorious. In front of a crowd of over 108,000, the East edged the West, with Brandon Roy looking on from the sidelines. How does the rest of the month of February look for the Blazers? More info after the Jump. As always, please leave behind critiques, recommendations, and opinions.
Where We Are
As you can see, we're currently the 8th seed in the NBA. However, the spacing between Portland and the second seed in the West, Denver, is only 5 games. This next stretch is going to be a good opportunity for our team to catch up a little bit. Things are looking up for us. Nicolas recently came back from injury. Brandon is expected to be back for the game against the Clippers tomorrow. Travis is also expected back soon. Although we will be without a true center, the rest of our team will be back. This will give us a huge opportunity to get back in the hunt for home court advantage in the playoffs. Again, it's not like we're far behind by any means. Only 5 games separate us from Denver and that #2 seed.
Seven more games left in the month. We have a three game homestand, then a four game road trip with only one back-to-back. Here's a little look from NBA.com
Out of the next 7 games, we have 5 against teams that are below .500. In fact, we have away games at New Jersey and Minnesota, the two worst teams in the association. There's going to be three easy wins for us, I think. The first will be on the 16th against the Clippers in Portland. They've lost eight of their last 10. Shouldn't be too tough for us. The next easy win will be on the road in New Jersey. We're not going to give them win number 5 or 6. Heck no. Anyway, their defense is so bad that it can make Dante Cunningham look like an offensive juggernaut, so that shouldn't be too tough of a win for us. And finally, we have a game in Minnesota to end the month on the 27th. Minnesota is an example of another poor defensive team. We shouldn't have too much trouble with them either.
Hard Fought Wins
We have Boston at home on the 19th, and then Utah on the 21st. These games could go either way- either the Blazers will execute well at the start of the game and set the tone offensively, or they will allow the Celtics and the Jazz to come into the Rose Garden and dominate them at home. Personally, I'm hoping that it's the first of the two, but our team's play has been very inconsistent at home. These games will be toss ups, especially the Jazz game. (The Jazz have played ridiculously well against Portland so far this year.) However, I think that our team has a good chance of winning both. I'll be angry if we don't win one of these two.
The Chicago Bulls game is different, though. We played very well in Phoenix against a Suns team that has been dominant at home. We can do the same thing, I think, against a Bulls team that has really struggled with consistency at home. I'd give us about a 50-50 chance of winning this game, not bad odds for a road game. (Don't get mad at me here, I'm just being realistic...)
The only game I don't think we have a very good chance of winning is the Toronto game. Away in Canada, Chris Bosh has been working hard. He's been playing at a very high level, and as a result his team's been 8-2 in their last 10. Coming to their house on the second night of a back to back and escaping with a win isn't impossible; I think we have the ability to do it. I just think that we won't be that fortunate this time around.
We'll go 5-2 out of the next 7. If we go 4-3, we'll still be OK, but I'll be really disappointed. I'll be infuriated if we fail to go 4-3 or we lose to the Nets. Completely and uncontrollably infuriated. I will be happier than Greg Oden at the sight of a freshly cloned, good to go left patella if we go 6-1 to end the month.
-RCM out. Peace, and go Blazers!