The Portland Trail Blazers own a 3-1 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder in their best-of-seven, first round NBA playoffs series. With but one victory remaining before advancement—assuming heavily that it’s forthcoming—Blazers fans are already beginning to look onward to later rounds and opponents. Today in the Blazer’s Edge Mailbag we answer a trio of such questions, tempting fate to please the masses.
Do you think if the Blazers get to the conference finals its legit or is it mostly bracket based?
Who said bracket-based advancement isn’t legitimate? Isn’t every series part of a bracket? You beat the opponent in front of you, then advance to beat the next one. That’s how it works.
Were the Blazers fortunate to get on the other side of the bracket from both the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets? Sure. They probably wouldn’t be up 3-1 against either. That was one of the perks of earning the third seed this year. Nobody gave that to them. They don’t have to apologize to anyone for their opponents. And by the way, they haven’t proven yet that they can beat a single one, technically. There’s one more game to go in the first round. They haven’t faced off yet versus the Denver Nuggets or San Antonio Spurs. I’d hold on the “lucky bracket” talk until it proves lucky for sure.
I do empathize with your question in that participation in the Conference Finals won’t necessarily mean that the Blazers are better than the loser of Round 2 on the other side of the bracket. They’ll have to beat the winner to establish that. But somebody is going to come out of this side. It might as well be Portland.
So you think we can get to the WCF Finals. Take it farther. Give me the scenario where we go through to the actual Finals especially if it’s against Houston or the Warriors.
As I said last week, I don’t think the Blazers make it past the Warriors. There are too many similarities and the Warriors are better. I can give you a Rockets scenario.
First, Portland could beat Houston outright, under any circumstances. They wouldn’t be favored, but the chances are much greater than zero. Those chances increase if Houston beats Golden State in Round 2, then thinks the hard part is finished and their ticket to the Finals is stamped already. It’d be awfully tricky for them to avoid some kind of letdown after finally vanquishing their arch-nemesis.
The problem is, emotional letdowns don’t usually last seven games. But maybe stealing one early would be enough to give the Blazers the edge.
Spurs or Nuggets?
I’m good with either. My main concern right now is that the Blazers finish the Thunder on Tuesday night and get Damian Lillard some rest. If that happens, I think Portland has a fair chance in the second round no matter who they face.
Common sense says you want the Spurs in this scenario. They’re a lower seed. The Blazers would have homecourt advantage. I’d lean that way too, but more because I’d like to see LaMarcus Aldridge in a seven-game series. That’d be tons of fun, with interesting storylines everywhere.
What say you, readers? San Antonio or Denver? Feel free to answer any of the other questions too, and send your own to firstname.lastname@example.org!