The NBA’s eight-game regular season schedule for the Orlando bubble has arrived and the slate of contests are far from kind to the Trail Blazers. If Portland hopes to catch the Memphis Grizzlies, they will have to overcome one of the toughest schedules that any team will face during the restart.
With the Blazers tough schedule in mind, CBS Sports NBA analyst Colin Ward-Henninger placed Portland in the “losers” column in his schedule breakdown. Ward-Henninger cited the Blazers’ lack of depth on the wing and shifting schedule strength.
Portland was looking like a solid pick to get that final Western Conference playoff spot with the return of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins from injury, but they were dealt a rough blow when Trevor Ariza elected not to participate in the Orlando restart. That already made them extremely shallow on the wing in a wing-heavy league, and this schedule certainly doesn’t help their cause. All eight of the Blazers’ games are against teams currently in the playoffs, with their toughest opponents (Celtics, Rockets, Nuggets, Clippers, 76ers) coming relatively early, when those teams are still vying for postseason position and have good reason to play their stars. Portland had the 16th-most difficult remaining schedule when the season was suspended, and it now has the fifth-hardest in Orlando, meaning Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and the Blazers have an extremely difficult road to the postseason.
Unsurprisingly, the Pelican’s friendly schedule landed in Ward-Henninger’s “winners” column. As Dave Deckard outlined in yesterday’s post following the schedule release, New Orleans is set to face opponents with a combined winning percentage of 49.5 percent.
The Blazers’ record currently sits at 29-37, placing them 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies. In order to force a play-in series for the final spot in the Western Conference Playoffs, Portland must finish in ninth place and stay within four games of the team that finishes in eighth.
You can read Ward-Henniger’s full list at CBS Sports.