After the Portland Trail Blazers put together a 3-1 week, most of the weekly polls are bullish on them, particularly as they move up the playoff ladder. Portland making the playoffs is what seems to be a forgone conclusion, now it's a matter of where they will fall in the seeding chase. With the Memphis Grizzlies struggling down the stretch and the Houston Rockets floundering away the chance to even make the playoffs, the Trail Blazers seem most likely to end up in the 5th seed, as our first pundit seems to believe.
Matt Moore of CBSports.com, goes for a half mea culpa on his preseason prognostication. Admitting he sold the Trail Blazers short, he now has them inside the Top 10 down the home stretch at No. 7.
The five-spot is within range and that's huge for a team not even expected to reach the playoffs in preseason. They've proven everyone (especially me) way wrong about how good they are. What does that mean for the future, though?
Jeremy Woo of SI.com mirrors Moore's perspective as the Blazers chase the 5th seed, although he has them a bit lower. Sliding them in at No. 11 this week.
LAST WEEK: 13
RECORD: 41-37 (3-1)
In leading this group to the postseason (and closing in on the five-seed), Damian Lillard has a real shot at a franchise record. Scoring 30 points in each of Portland's last four games would give him 27 performances with 30-plus on the year.
John Schuhmann of NBA.com highlights just how good the Trail Blazers have been at home since the turn of the year while also noting some road struggles before placing them at No. 11 this week.
Pace: 98.2 (13) OffRtg: 105.8 (7) DefRtg: 105.5 (20) NetRtg: +0.3 (14)
The Blazers have been nearly unbeatable at home (16-2 since late January), but finished 0-8 on the road against the top four seeds in the West (having lost six of the eight games by 13 points or more) after Sunday's loss in Oakland. They have one more home game against the top four, but Wednesday's visit from the Thunder won't be a playoff preview if Portland moves past Memphis for fifth place.
To wrap things up, Marc Stein of ESPN.com wants everyone to get used to the idea of a Clippers-Blazers playoff match-up, as he sees it as mostly inevitable. He bumped the Blazers up two spots this week, also to No. 11.
It's probably wise to start getting used to the idea of a Clippers-Blazers series in the first round. A locked-in Damian Lillard on another Oakland homecoming Sunday night couldn't prevent the end of Portland's four-game winning streak, but it's hard to see the battered Griz holding Dame & Co. off for the No. 5 seed now. The Blazers surely want to move up, too, given how much trouble they've had with Oklahoma City.