On the heels of a gut-wrenching loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the results are in as we recently polled Portland Trail Blazers faithful and NBA fans alike on how far they envision the Blazers advancing in the 2023 NBA Playoffs.
Only 18 percent of voters asserted that Portland will advance anywhere past the first round. Given the fact that Rip City is donning a 22-25 record with 35 games left in the season, there is rational merit to justify such low expectations for the franchise.
The Trail Blazers are 12-10 at the Moda Center, good for No. 12 in the conference in home win percentage. The Blazers are a bottom-10 team league wide in all five face-value defensive statistics, be it blocks (No. 22), steals (No. 29), defensive rebounds (No. 21), personal fouls committed (No. 21) and forced turnovers (No. 23).
Their only saving grace comes by way of efficient shooting from the floor and from the three-point line. They connect on 36.8 percent of their triples (No. 9 league wide) and 47.5 percent of their shots from the field (No. 13 league wide).
The Damian Lillard-led franchise is the quintessence of an average team in the clutch, where they shoot 43.5 percent from the floor, good for No. 15 in the NBA, but do make up for this with a very reliable 85.5 percent clip from the charity stripe. A major question will be whether or not the Blazers can keep games close when the stakes rise to even be able to channel their prowess in money time.
Although Portland has struggled for the better part of two months, they only have 2.5 game differential between their current standing and the No. 6 seed. A move or two at the deadline and a refocused team could flip the script, but what transpires will be all that matters.