Time for a drive past the NBA Power Rankings! How do the Portland Trail Blazers stack up against their 29 competitors?
San Antonio has been encroaching on Golden State's unanimous hold on #1 over the last couple of weeks. This week they finally broke through, reaching the top of the heap on one list. Meanwhile the Trail Blazers went 3-1 and were rewarded with baby steps. They took a step forward on 3 lists, wobbled on another, and went backwards on a couple more. It almost amounts to a consensus as they range from a high of 7 to a low of...8.
8. Portland Trail Blazers (50-26, Last week: 8)
The Blazers' wing depth will be tested through the playoffs, especially with Dorrell Wright joining Wesley Matthews on the injury list. Portland will rely heavily rely on second-year guard C.J. McCollum to play big minutes off the bench, which could ultimately be a good thing for his development.
Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated: 1) Golden State, 2) Cleveland, 3) San Antonio, 4) Los Angeles Clippers, & 5) Houston.
7 PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS LAST WEEK: 10 RECORD: 50-26 (3-1)
Portland's depth has been tested with the loss of Wes Matthews and the early results have exceeded expectations. The Blazers' bench has averaged 35.5 points over their last eight games, a span in which they've gone 6-2. On the year, the Blazers' second unit averages just 15.3 points, third-worst in the league.
Matt Moore of CBSSports: 1) San Antonio, 2) Golden State, 3) Atlanta, 4) Cleveland, & 5) Houston.
8 Portland seems like the easy first-round opponent in the West's gauntlet. But ask yourself this: Do you honestly want to see Damian Lillard walk into your arena for a playoff series?
John Schuhmann of nba.com: 1) Golden State, 2) Cleveland, 3) San Antonio, 4) Atlanta, & 5) Los Angeles Clippers.
7 Last week: 8 Portland (50-26) Pace: 96.2 (13) OffRtg: 105.8 (8) DefRtg: 100.9 (8) NetRtg: +4.9 (5)
Only the Thunder have regressed more defensively since the All-Star break, but the Blazers' offense has kicked back in. They've scored more than 117 points per 100 possessions over their last five games, getting a lift off the bench from C.J. McCollum. They're leaving some guys at home for their one-game road trip to Brooklyn, a result of a January snowstorm. This week: @ BKN, vs. MIN, @ GSW, vs. UTA
Marc Stein of ESPN: 1) Golden State, 2) San Antonio, 3) Cleveland, 4) Los Angeles Clippers, & 5) Houston.
8 Portland 50-26 Last Week: 9 You know who loves the fact division winners can't fall any lower than No. 4 in the standings? Portland! The Blazers are a middling 9-7 since losing ace shooter/defender Wes Matthews for the season but are happily letting the Rockets, Grizz, Clips and Spurs battle it out for seeds No. 2, 3, 5 and 6.
Mark Spears of Yahoo.com: 1) Golden State, 2) Cleveland, 3) Houston, 4) San Antonio, & 5) Los Angeles Clippers.
8. Portland Trail Blazers (Record: 50-26; last week: 7): The Northwest Division title doesn't assure home-court advantage in the first round where Portland could face the Clippers or Spurs.
If the Trail Blazers are consistently ranked this week, so is San Antonio. That's cause for worry for all the other Western Conference teams. The Spurs are now in the top 3 on every list save one.