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Should the Blazers Be Considered Early Playoff Locks?

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Bill Simmons and Zach Lowe look at Portland’s place in the Western Conference.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

As experts reflect on a busy offseason and look ahead to next season, the Portland Trail Blazers often find themselves grouped in the tier of teams that are likely to make the 2020 NBA playoffs. There’s still a full season ahead, of course, but it’s a fun exercise to predict how the Western Conference will shake out.

Bill Simmons and Zach Lowe went through Western Conference playoff picture on the latest Lowe Post podcast. Lowe asked Simmons if there was a team out of six consensus playoff locks — the Clippers, Lakers, Nuggets, Jazz, Blazers and Rockets — that he isn’t prepared to call a lock just yet. Simmons picked the Blazers:

“I’m not saying they’re going to suck, I’m just saying, a lot of things went right for them last year — until the Nurkic injury, which was obviously terrible. They had a great season, they made the conference finals, career year for Dame [Lillard], and now it’s a year later: we have no idea when Nurkic is coming back, Hassan Whiteside is involved … and I just didn’t think they got better.”

Lowe was in agreement as both experts talked about how much better the Western Conference got in the offseason. You can listen to the full episode here.

What are your thoughts on Portland’s possible standing in the West? Let us know in the comments.