It has been an up-and-down start to the 2018-19 NBA regular season for the Trail Blazers. Portland has risen to the top of the Western Conference, fallen out of the top four, and stabilized their position as an above .500 team through 26 games. A panel of ESPN analysts recently put together their predictions for the Western Conference’s postseason landscape, and the Blazers’ unpredictable start produced a mixed bag of outlooks.
On the positive side, FiveThirtyEight’s Chris Herring listed Portland as a team that could push to be the second-best team in the Western Conference.
For now, I think it’s hard to argue against the Clippers, even though I assume another club -- perhaps the Lakers, Thunder or Blazers -- will hit another gear as we move closer to the playoffs.
Along with that prediction, each analyst revealed their current predictions for Western Conference postseason qualifiers. Brian Windhorst dodged the question, but the other four panel members produced their eight-team lists. Of the four, only two of the analysts put Portland in the playoffs. Kevin Pelton and Herring both omitted the Blazers from their predictions.
Herring’s list included the: Warriors, Thunder, Clippers, Lakers, Rockets, Nuggets, Grizzlies and Jazz. Pelton’s list was nearly identical, but subbed the Pelicans in for the Grizzlies.