Borderline Playoffs? Potentially Elite? Many national pundits are saying the schedule sets Portland up for failure. Others say that Portland's style does not work in the playoffs, and consequently, they will fail. I am so tired of hearing this, I wanted to figure it out for myself, so I decided to analyze the remaining schedule. I might look at the style issue sometime later, but here is how the schedule breaks down to me:
Current Record 22-5
Now through January 15th: 11 games, 3 road, 8 home, 3 above 500, 8 below 500, 2 back to backs, no 4 in 5
This section of the schedule is VERY easy. Only 3 on the road, a long home stand vs. Eastern Conference teams, only 2 sets of back to backs, several significant breaks between games, this ought to continue the hot streak and even allow some rest for the starters of Stotts will allow that:
Best Case 10-1 Worst Case 5-6 My Prediction 9-2
32-6 27-11 31-7
January 17-28: 8 games, 5 on the road, 3 at home, all 8 above 500, 3 back to backs, one 4 in 5
This is a brutal little stretch, 3 games in Texas and ending in OKC, in a brutal 4 in 5 trip, 1 day off then Nuggets at home, then 1 day off and a home/road back to back, then 1 day off and the Griz at home. This could potentially be an 0-8 stretch, but if it was 0-8 or anywhere near it, it would mean that all the momentum of the first 1/3rd of the season is gone and the Blazers truly are scraping to right the ship.
Best Case 6-2 Worst Case 0-8 My Prediction 4-4
38-8 27-19 35-11
February: 12 games, six at home, six on the road, 5 below 500, 7 above 500, 3 back to backs, no 4 in 5
February is a mixed bag. There are no brutal scheduling grinds, a break for all-star weekend, the trade deadline if things have collapsed and a change should be made, and even in the worst case, the team is still 8 games over 500 when this month starts. The 4 game road trip to start the month comes after 3 days off, and starts easy, ending hard. The end of the month includes a lot of days off. If the team is still solid and together and injury free after late January, this could be a good month for the Blazers.
Best Case 10-2 Worst Case 5-7 My Prediction 8-4
48-10 32-26 43-15
March: 17 games, 7 home, 10 road, 10 above 500, 7 below 500, 3 back to backs, 1 4 in 5
March could be brutal. Starts off with last 2 days of February off coming off an easy schedule from all star break, three winnable home games, every other day to start March, but then comes a five game trip, three tougher home games, and a brutal five game trip one night off then home to Memphis. March is where a tired and worn down starting unit could lose a bunch, or a healthy team that got McCollum into the mix in February and has depth could take advantage of other worn down teams. It all depends how worn the Blazers are by now.
Best Case 13-4 Worst Case 7-10 My Prediction 11-6
61-14 39-36 54-21
April: 7 games, 5 home, 2 road, 3 over 500, 4 below 500, no back to backs
If Portland is in the worst case scenario, they will be on the playoff bubble, and these seven games set up nicely for a final push. Only 2 road games are Lakers and Jazz, both out of contention and in tank mode, no back to backs, and some rest time. If the Blazers are over 50 wins, this might be a chance for some pre playoff healing and recovery. Unless there has been a total collapse, and even if there has been a partial one, I see a winning record for April.
Best Case 7-0 Worst Case 4-3 My prediction 6-1
68-14 43-39 60-22
The best case is highly unlikely. Most would probably say my prediction is highly unlikely. But despite some brutal stretches, there are some healing opportunities within there, and many chances for more little momentum building runs. I really don't think unless there is injury to a major player, that the worst case is likely. We'll know a lot more at the end of January, when that 8 game stretch occurs. Go 500 or better then, and barring injury, this is a solid playoff team, despite the naysayers.