Taking a look back at: http://www.blazersedge.com/2013/8/9/4608156/lucky-13-breaking-down-the-season
I had predicted the Blazers would go 48-34 this season.
Phase 1: Coming out Swinging (Oct 30-Nov 14): 8 games (SA, Hou, Sac, Det, Pho, @Pho, @Den, @Sac).
As expected, the Blazers started the season 2-2, winning one of the two home games vs the Rockets and Spurs, and dominated the Kings twice in the b2b. However, the Blazers quickly gained a game on the preseason prediction by winning both of the last 2 games in the phase.
Phase 2: Surviving the Initial Eastern Attack (Nov 15-Nov 22): 5 games (Chi, @Bos, @Tor, @Bkn, @Milw).
Blazers explode on the road for 4 wins, along with a Derrick Rose-less Bulls team at the Moda Center. In the notes in the preseason predictions, I stated that I believed we could/should win 4 of these games, but that I didn't want to go all Mike Rice in the predictions. Seeing as the Blazers absolutely demolished phase 2, perhaps I should have gone 'all Mike Rice.' Gaining 3 more games on the preseason prediction, the Blazers are on pace to win 52 games.
Phase 3: Out-gunning the Run and Gun (Nov 23-Dec 4): 6 games (NY, Ind, OKC, @GS, @Pho, @LAL).
Blazers are destroying the prediction, adding another 2 wins to the prediction. I started the analysis of this group by stating: "Humorously, I think we could win all of these games, or lose all of these games: All that will matter is who has the bigger gun on the given night." The Blazers had the biggest gun basically every night, and are now 6 full games ahead of the prediction.
Phase 4: Slaughtering Middle America (Dec 4-Dec 20) 8 games (Utah, Dal, Hou, @Utah, @Phil, @Det, @Cle, @Minn).
Blazers hit the prediction, and maintain their 6 full game lead over the preseason prediction. The Blazers lost at the Timberwolves as expected, but the other loss came from a home loss to Dallas on a last second game winner. It stings, but matching the prediction isn't a bad outcome. Blazers are still on pace to win 54 games this season.
Phase 5: The Holidays (Dec 21-Jan 1) 5 games (NO, LAC, Mia, @NO, @OKC).
The expectation was that this was going to be a tough stretch, and it didn't disappoint. The Blazers pulled off an amazing home win over the Clippers, and as expected the Blazers took 1 of the 2 games vs the Pelicans. With the win over at Oklahoma City, the Blazers gain another game on the prediction, giving the Blazers a full 7 game lead over the preseason prediction, and are on pace for 55 wins.
Phase 6: A New Hope (Jan 2-Jan 16) 6 games (Char, Phi, Orl, Bos, Clev, @Sac).
There was always going to be a couple phases that the Blazers underperformed compared to the prediction, and I shouldn't expect them to go undefeated for any sizable stretch. Still losing at home to the 76ers and then to the Kings the following game, does sting. Still, despite losing 2 games to the prediction, the Blazers are still 5 games up on the prediction.
Phase 7: LaMarcus' Return (Jan 17-Jan 21) 4 games (@SA, @Hou, @Dal, @OKC).
I stated that Aldridge wasn't going to return home and not take at least one of these games. Aldridge averaged over 15 rebounds per game in these 4 games, and helped lead the Blazers to 2 wins on the 4 game road trip. At least semi-countering the sting of losing 2 games in phase 6, the Blazers get one of them back, and put them back on pace to win 54 wins.
Phase 8: Make Yourself at Home (Jan 22-Feb 2) 5 games (Den, Minn, Mem, Tor, @GS).
As expected, the Blazers struggled and lost at Golden State. Not expected however, was the Blazers losing at home vs the Memphis Grizzlies, scoring just 81 points. Losing a game on the prediction isn't that bad, as the Blazers are still 5 games up.
Phase 9: An Uphill Climb (Feb 3-Feb 14) 6 games (OKC, @Wash, @NY, @Ind, @Minn, @LAC).
The schedule wasn't kind, and the Blazers performed as expected at the beginning of February. In the preseason notes I stated: "Where the Blazers are picking up the 2 wins I'm predicting, I'm not sure. Not one of these games screams win to me, but I have a hard time imagining losing all 6 games going into the All-star break." They almost did lose all 6 of those games going into the All-star break. However, they managed to hit the prediction, and maintain their 5 game lead on the prediction.
Phase 10: The Prodigal Child Returns (Feb 15-Mar 6) 8 games (SA, Utah, Minn, Bkn, Den, LAL, Atl, @Den).
In the prediction, I overestimated the quality of the Nets, Nuggets, and Lakers. However, the Blazers underestimated the quality of the Lakers, thus providing me with a bit of cover. I stated that "We take 5 of the 8, I'll be satisfied." I am still beyond satisfied with our production.
The Blazers jumped out to that early 6 game lead on the projection after phase 3(first 19 games), and have roughly maintained the prediction the last 7 phases(42 games).
Phase 11: A Western Moving Spirit (Mar 7-Mar 16) 6 games (GS, @Dal, @Hou, @Mem, @SA, @NO).
Once again with the crazy road Texas Trio. This is going to be gut check time. We need to take at least 2 of these 6 games. And while I honestly think we could win 3 or 4, I'm keeping my prediction to just the 2 wins. After the final long west road trip, we return to the Garden to face off on the Warriors; this game has the makings of a 130-122 (game), with the two teams combining for 5 players scoring 30+ points.
Phase 12: Once More Unto the Breach (Mar 17-Mar 28) 7 games (Milw, Wash, @Char, @Mia, @Orl, @Atl, @Chi).
There are 3 teams in the Wiggins lottery here: Milw, @Char, and @Orl. In addition, the Wizards are 19-90 on the road, since they drafted John Wall (however, we all know they swept us last year). In addition, I like our chances against @Hawks, and for some unknown reason the Heat have had trouble with the Blazers. I think winning 4 of the 7 games is a reasonable goal.
Phase 13: Phase 13: Bringing it Home (Mar 29-Apr 16) 8 games (Mem, Pho, NO, Sac, GS, LAC, @LAL, @Utah).
Coming down the homestretch, we should be gaining momentum as we plough into the playoffs for the first time in 4 years. With 6 home games, and a road game @Utah(desperate to win the Wiggins lottery), the Blazers should control their destiny in the final month.
So, in the last 3 phases, I had predicted the Blazers would go 12-9 in the last 21 games.
As the Blazers currently have 42 wins, if they can match or beat the preseason prediction, they would finish the year with 54 wins or more.
However, they need to just go 11-10 in the final 21 games (3 phases) to have a 20 win improvement over last year.
Key takeaways from that post:
"(1) These are the teams that improved 20 or more games, but were starting from a solid foundation of at least a 29-53 record." "As you can see, all 7 of the previous teams advanced to at least the Conference Finals, with 3 of the 7 teams advancing all the way to the NBA Finals."
"(2) These are the teams that improved 20 or more games, but were starting from a record worse than 29-53(arranged by the second year record)." "All 5 teams that had records of at least 51-31 following the improvement won their first round playoff series, with 3 of the 5 teams advancing to at least the Conference Finals."
"The Blazers would need to have a record of 53-29 to get to that 20 win improvement."