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Deveney: Trail Blazers Looking Good in Securing Third Seed

Sporting News’ Sean Deveney analyzes the Trail Blazers’ chances of clinching the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference.

NBA: Miami Heat at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Trail Blazers’ impressive 10-game winning streak has catapulted them to the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoff race. But will their recent momentum be enough to seal home-court advantage? Sporting News’ Sean Deveney took an in-depth look at the playoff race, and he has faith in Portland’s chances down the stretch.

Deveney listed Damian Lillard’s stellar play as the driving force behind the Blazers’ quest for the third seed:

Damian Lillard has been outstanding during the Blazers’ nine-game winning streak, ranking fifth in the league with a plus/minus of 11.0. He is leading the league in 3-point attempts in that span (10.2 per game) and making 4.4 of them, which also leads the league.

Winning streak aside, Deveney also shed light on the tough road ahead for Portland:

The schedule is deceptively difficult. At .538, the remaining opponents don’t have an overwhelming winning percentage, and the remaining 15 games go seven at home and eight no the road. But among the home games are Cleveland, Houston, Boston, the Clippers and Utah. And the road games are not sprinkled throughout — there are two extended trips, one of three games and one of four.

Even with a schedule that features eight road games and only seven home games, Deveney has Portland slotted to meet the Utah Jazz in the opening round of the playoffs.

Deveney provided this outlook before moving down the list of Western Conference hopefuls:

Starting with a four-game cushion and on a hot streak, it’s pretty safe to put the Blazers into the playoffs. Even if they only won eight of their final 15, they’d still be at 49 wins and easily in the mix. Most likely, they’ll win 10 games or so to finish the year, be in the 51-win range and earn the No. 3 seed.

You can read Deveney’s full breakdown of the playoff picture here.