The Portland Trail Blazers have opened up the playoffs on the road every year they’ve made it with Damian Lillard in town. Whether it was at Houston in 2014, at Memphis in 2015, at Los Angeles in 2016 or at Golden State in 2017, they’ve always been visitors to start the first round.
But the Blazers are looking to buck that trend, according to Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune. They have a possible finish as high as the 3-seed in their sights:
The Blazers have 14 remaining home games and six road dates left on the schedule. [Ed. note: This was an error, there are actually 15 home games and 11 road games left] That would mean going 20-7 the rest of the way to finish 50-32, which might get them as high as third place in the NBA Western Conference.
That’s exactly what the Blazers are hoping for — or, at least fourth place, which would mean home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
”That’s our goal,” reserve forward Ed Davis said. “We have to get some momentum heading into the (All-Star) break. After that, it’s a downhill run that goes quickly. We want to control our own destiny.”
NBA players are creatures of habit, and staying in Portland would allow them to be just a bit more comfortable as they head into a stressful situation like the playoffs, according to CJ McCollum:
”Home-court advantage means a lot in this league,” McCollum said. “You get to sleep in your own bed. Stick to your routine. You don’t have to travel. It’s crucial.”
Portland currently stands at 31-25, good for No. 5 in the West. They trail the Minnesota Timberwolves (34-24, No. 4 in West) and San Antonio Spurs (35-22, No. 3 in West). While they are set on finishing possibly that high, they also have to worry about teams behind them.
As Peter Sampson here at Blazer’s Edge wrote, the Blazers need to capitalize on a friendly February schedule before the last month and a half ramps up as the playoff push begins.
You can read the rest of Eggers’ piece here.