The Portland Trail Blazers are 41-18 on the season after a 3-0 week that included wins over the Denver Nuggets (twice) and Brooklyn Nets.
Here's how the Blazers stack up in the various NBA power rankings following week 18 of the 2013-14 season. Last week, the Blazers ranked from No. 4 to No. 12. This week, Portland placed from No. 4 to No. 8, with some upward movement in the various rankings.
Also this week, check out some of the playoff forecasts as we hit the home stretch of the 2013-14 regular season. They are included below.
No. 7 (Last week: 7): Marc Stein, ESPN.com
Damian Lillard, according to Elias, recently became the first Blazer since Sidney Wicks back in 1973 to score at least 25 points in Portland's first four games after the All-Star break. Better yet: Portland just won a badly needed four in a row sans LaMarcus Aldridge (groin injury) after losing seven of 10.
No. 7 (Last week: 7): Marc Spears, Yahoo! Sports
The Blazers visit the Rockets on Sunday in a matchup of two teams fighting to get one of the West's top playoff seeds.
No. 7 (Last week: 9): Matt Dollinger, SI.com
The Blazers went 4-1 while All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge sat with a groin injury (he returned for Saturday's victory over Denver). That's an impressive testament to the team's newfound depth. Portland went 1-7 without him last season.
No. 8 (Last week: 11): John Schuhmann, NBA.com
The Blazers played their best defense of the season in LaMarcus Aldridge's absence and held another team (Denver) under a point per possession upon his return on Saturday. Their winning streak should reach seven games with home games against the Lakers and Hawks, but their March schedule is jam packed, with 15 games (11 on the road) in 26 days, starting Friday in Dallas.
No. 4 (Last week: 4): David Aldridge, NBA.com
After bleeding points before the All-Star break, the Blazers have gotten back to defensive basics: five straight wins, averaging 92.4 points against per game.
No. 8 (Last week: 12): Matt Moore, CBSSports.com
They responded really well to some adversity. Strong case to take them seriously in the playoffs.
No. 7 (Last week: 7): Kurt Helin, ProBasketballTalk
Winners of five in a row without LaMarcus Aldridge - that is big, I don't care if the schedule was pretty soft in that stretch. This is how they hold on to a top 4 seed. The streak could reach 7 hosting the Lakers and Hawks, but then it's a tough Texas road swing.
No. 7 (Last week: 9): Jason Patt, SB Nation
After a rough patch, the Blazers have gotten back on the winning track, and they did it mostly without LaMarcus Aldridge. Portland has won five straight games, and now the star power forward is back from a groin injury.
No. 7 (Last week: 7): USA Today Sports
Any hesitation on the Moda Center name should be hedged by their 23-7 record there.
No. 8 (Last week: No. 11): Hollinger Power Rankings
- Offensive Efficiency: No. 3 (Last week: Tied-No. 2)
- Defensive Efficiency: Tied-No. 20 (Last week: No. 23)
- Rebound Rate: No. 5 (Last week: No. 5)
- Pace: No. 9 (Last week: No. 9)
- Projected record: 55-27 (No. 5 seed)
- 99.9 percent chance to make the playoffs
- 10.7 percent chance to make the Finals
- 5.6 percent chance to win the title
- Projected record: 55.5-26.5 (No. 3 seed)
- 100 percent chance to make the playoffs
- 12.1 percent chance to make the Finals
- 6.5 percent chance to win the title
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-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter