The Western Conference could have its first playoff team with a losing record since expanding to 15 teams. The Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Grizzlies and Spurs are in the race for the No. 8 seed.
What if Portland reaches the postseason?
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) February 17, 2020
I’m pretty sure we’re the last team that anybody want to see.
This is probably true – relatively. Lillard is great and clutch. C.J. McCollum stepped up last postseason. Carmelo Anthony is widely respected by his peers. Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins could return from injury by the playoffs and make Portland more dangerous than its record.
But the Trail Blazers would still be a No. 8 seed, likely with a losing record.
I’d rather see Portland as a playoff opponent than the Lakers, Clippers, Rockets, Jazz and Nuggets. Depending how everyone finishes, probably the Mavericks and Thunder, too.
There’s variance given the star power, players returning from injury and – going the other direction – underwhelming play throughout the season. But in the middle of outcomes, Portland looks like a fairly typical No. 8 seed. That’s not so imposing.
And that’s if the Trail Blazers even reach the postseason. With Lillard injured, it’ll be difficult to pass Memphis and fend off New Orleans and San Antonio.