The Portland Trail Blazers hope to be among eight top seeds vying for glory in the 2019 NBA Playoffs next April, but FiveThirtyEight.com is projecting that they won’t make it. Using their proprietary CARMELO system, accounting for depth and individual player projections, the analytics site predicts that the Blazers will finish 9th in the Western Conference with just 39 wins. This would be a rapid descent from their 49-win season a year ago, during which they earned the 3rd seed in the 2018 NBA Playoffs.
Though the Trail Blazers’ ranking leaves them on the bubble as far as seeding, the distance between 9th and 8th is as wide as the distance between any two adjacent seeds in the conference. Portland’s 39 wins puts them 6 games behind the 8th-seeded New Orleans Pelicans, a gap exceeded only by the 7 games between first-place Golden State and the second-place Houston Rockets. The Pelicans have a 73% chance of making the playoffs according to FiveThirtyEight’s model. Portland’s chance is 34%.
Of Portland, FiveThirtyEight’s Neil Paine says:
...the Blazers appear to be headed for a regression after playing over their heads last season, flaming out in the playoffs and doing little to improve over the summer.
The Blazers open the regular season on Thursday night against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.