The Portland Trail Blazers capped off another solid week with a 3-1 record after dispatching the Spurs on Saturday. With just a few days left in the season, the Blazers are positioned to avoid the play-in portion of the NBA Playoffs thanks to their impressive late-season push. Portland’s improvements were recognized in latest round of power rankings.
ESPN’s rankings placed the Blazers at No. 10. Contributor Royce Young highlighted Damian Lillard’s return to form in the analysis portion of the list.
Portland has won seven of its past eight contests, and within that stretch, Damian Lillard is averaging 33.8 points on 52% shooting. The Blazers’ slump a few weeks ago had a lot of reasons behind it, but the overarching issue was that Lillard wasn’t producing at his standard. Since then, the power of Dame was possibly on display on a bigger-than-basketball level, with him tweeting about wanting fans in Portland’s home building — and having his wish granted a few days later.
The Score moved the Blazers up two spots to No. 11. Lillard also took center stage inside The Score’s assessment of Portland’s placement.
Lillard remains one of the league’s best closers despite suffering a knee injury setback in late March, averaging 6.9 points in the fourth quarter for a Blazers team very familiar with nail-biting finishes.
Bleacher Report’s Mo Dakhil placed the Blazers at No. 11. With the postseason looming, Dakhil detailed how Portland’s position in the Western Conference standings has drastically improved.
It was a big week for the Blazers. The win over the Lakers means they control their destiny since they hold a 1.5-game lead over L.A. for the 6th spot in the West and own the tiebreaker between the two teams. If they handle their business, they should make the playoffs outright and give Damian Lillard a little rest before the postseason begins. Even stealing the fifth seed is not out of the question as they are just a game behind the Mavs.
The Blazers are set to compete in four games this week as the 2020-21 regular season comes to a close. That slate of games gets underway with a home matchup against the Rockets on Monday.