The Trail Blazers’ loss to the Suns extended their current losing streak to four games and nudged Portland just outside of the Western Conference postseason picture. Regardless of the injuries and less-than-ideal performances, coach Terry Stotts is still focused on the playoffs.
Following Monday’s contest, The Athletic’s Jason Quick returned to a question about prioritizing the NBA Draft lottery over the postseason. Despite dropping six games below .500, Stotts delivered a familiar response.
“You brought that up about a month ago which I thought was extremely premature and I think it’s premature right now,” Stotts said. “We (at the time) are in the 8th spot – and the difference between four or five picks in the draft really doesn’t matter that much. Every player and coach wants to win every game and make the playoffs, so I think asking those types of questions to a team that’s made the playoffs six years in a row is unrealistic and way to premature.”
Quick followed up by asking Stotts to elaborate on the mindset that the organization is utilizing.
“The goal is … we owe it to our fan base, we owe it to the players and coaches to compete every game and there’s … especially at this point of the season. I don’t think any team – even teams with poor records – are talking about next year right now. There’s not a team out there not trying to win games. So like I said, the timing of even asking those question is inappropriate.”
Inappropriate or not, the Blazers’ laundry list of issues paint a cumbersome picture for postseason aspirations. Reclaiming the final playoff spot in the Western Conference could earn the Blazers a date with the Lakers in the first round. Through two meetings, LeBron James’ squad emerged victorious on both occasions by a combined 31 points. If this season continues on a similar path, the Blazers will eventually have to evaluate the potential benefits of an early postseason exit over a favorable position in the NBA Draft.
The Blazers’ current record is 14-20. Starting Wednesday, Portland will embark on a five-game road trip.
You can read Quick’s full post at The Athletic (subscription required).