Friday night, bleakness reigned in Rip City. Portland lost a brutal game to the Nuggets, while the other relevant West playoff seeds celebrated wins. Even worse, Portland faced that same Denver team two days later. But when the Nuggets decided to rest their stars, Sunday offered a small window for the Blazers, and they leapt through, followed by a little help from an old rival.
Rockets 149, Suns 113
Blazers 115, Nuggets 108
Jazz 109, Lakers 113
Thanks to Denver’s loss to Portland, the 2-4 seeds are quite close. But the Blazers do not own the tiebreaker with the Nuggets, so they can’t reach the 2nd seed.
2. Nuggets: 53-27
3. Rockets: 53-28 (0.5 games back)
4. Blazers: 51-29 (2 games back)
5. Jazz: 49-31 (4 games back)
The big news: Thanks to the Lakers’ upset of the Jazz Sunday night, Portland has nearly sealed home court advantage in round 1. They need just one win, or one Jazz loss.
All teams are idle for the NCAA Men’s Championship game.
Nuggets at Jazz | 6:00 pm PDT
Rockets at OKC | 6:30 pm PDT | TNT
Blazers at Lakers | 7:30 pm PDT
What Will Happen Tuesday
A crazy 3-4 hours, then probably lots of clarity. If Houston wins, they will banish the Blazers and Jazz to battle for the 4th and 5th seeds. If Portland wins and/or Utah loses, the Blazers will officially be the 4th seed, and will face the 5th seed Jazz in the first round.
If Houston loses, Portland will still have a shot at the third seed. More on that later.
at Jazz (Apr 9)
vs. Timberwolves (Apr 10, B2B)
at Lakers (Apr 9)
vs. Kings (Apr 10, B2B)
at Thunder (Apr 9)
vs. Nuggets (Apr 9)
at Clippers (Apr 10, B2B)
Who is the Blazers’ First-Round Opponent?
Until Denver chose to rest their players, it looked like the Blazers were preparing for a date with the Jazz. While Utah is still the likeliest opponent, it’s not set in stone.
As noted above, everything rotates around the Rockets’ game against OKC. If Houston loses, and if Denver wins at least one more game, then Portland can grab the third seed with wins Tuesday and Wednesday. But that may also lead to a first round date with OKC, who had Portland’s number all season. With that risk comes a possible big reward: Being in the half of the West playoff bracket without Houston or Golden State. All four teams in that bracket would believe they have a shot at the Western Conference Finals.