The Portland Trail Blazers have started their daunting, post-All-Star break road trip with a pair of impressive wins over the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers. The team looks to be in solid position as the NBA’s playoff drive intensifies, and recent acquisitions Rodney Hood and Enes Kanter have folks in Portland excited. It’s not just Rip City that’s high on the Blazers, however. The national media has taken notice too, as reflected in this week’s Power Rankings round-up.
ESPN ranked the team sixth, up three spots from last week. Marc J. Spears has his eyes on Hood as the veteran makes his return to The Land:
On Monday, newcomer guard Rodney Hood will face Cleveland for the first time since the Cavaliers traded him on Feb. 4. Hood has scored in double figures just once since joining the Blazers, averaging 8.3 points in 22 minutes in six games for Portland.
CBS Sports has the Blazers eighth, and Reid Forgrave gives his take on the team’s worst-case scenario:
Worst-case scenario: Not only do the Blazers get knocked out in the first round, they do so in a way that exposes this team as far too reliant on Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. The noise that’s been in the background of every Blazers failure the past few years -- that this team has a distinct ceiling with this star backcourt -- becomes overwhelming. The late-season moves (acquiring Rodney Hood, signing Enes Kanter) turned out to be solid moves, but not nearly enough for what this team needed.
Sports Illustrated has pegged Portland fifth, up from eighth a week ago. Khadrice Rollins looks ahead to the team’s first game back from the roadie:
Of the Trail Blazers’ first 12 games after the All-Star Break, 10 of them are on the road. The first home contest is against the Thunder, who Portland is 0-3 against this season. With only two games separating the teams, the Trail Blazers can still hop the Thunder in the standings even though they can’t get the tiebreaker. But if they get swept for the season series, it’s hard to see that happening.
The Blazers (36-23) continue their odyssey tonight in Cleveland, then make stops in Boston on Wednesday, Toronto on Friday and Charlotte on Sunday to close out the week.