Portland Trail Blazers trade rumors continue to float around as the team tries to acquire a big man. The team is only half a game behind the Denver Nuggets for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and many Blazers fans have become excited about possibly making the 2017 NBA Playoffs. Could making the postseason be a bad thing for the Blazers? Would it be better to start trading assets and work toward a strong position in the 2017 NBA Draft?
The latest NBA standings show just how close the Blazers are to making the postseason, but it also lays out who the team would play in the first-round of the playoffs. The Golden State Warriors currently control the No. 1 seed in the West and don’t appear close to giving it up. The Warriors (43-8) are three-and-a-half games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs (39-11) when it comes to the race for homecourt advantage throughout the postseason.
The first regular season game between the Blazers and Warriors took place on November 1 at Moda Center. The Warriors ended up winning that game by 23 points, despite Damian Lillard scoring 31 for the Blazers. On December 17, the Warriors won by 45 points at Oracle Arena, sending a clear statement that the teams didn’t match up very well. The game on January 4 was a bit closer, but it still resulted in an eight-point victory for the Warriors. Then on January 29, the Warriors “only” won by two points at Moda Center.
Now there are two ways to look at the season series between the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors. Fans of the Blazers might look at it and say that the team has improved in the last two matchups, losing by just two points in the latest game. A more realistic way to look at it, though, is that the Blazers just got swept in four games by the Warriors. As coincidence would have it, that’s how many victories the Warriors would need against the Blazers to advance in the NBA Playoffs.
The whole point of the NBA regular season is to do well, clinch one of the eight seeds in your respective conference, and then try to work your way through the playoff bracket to the NBA Finals. The ultimate goal is, of course, to win a championship and reward the loyal fans of your city. Very rarely, though, does a team emerge from the field that shocks the experts. Maybe Jeff Van Gundy’s New York Knicks? Maybe Hakeem Olajuwon’s Houston Rockets? Outside of rare instances, usually one of the top four seeds wins the conference title.
In a hypothetical situation, where the Portland Trail Blazers clinched the No. 8 seed in the NBA Playoffs, the road to the championship would be a tough one. After a first-round series against the Golden State Warriors, the Blazers would have to play the winner of the Utah Jazz vs. L.A. Clippers series. Surviving that round would then lead to the Western Conference Finals against either the San Antonio Spurs or Houston Rockets. Then it would be on to the NBA Finals, where the Cleveland Cavaliers are again the favorites to emerge from the East.
NBA trade rumors have linked the Blazers to Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat, DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers, and even Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers. None of these deals is going to happen unless the Blazers trade Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, or a valuable first-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Maybe, instead, the team should be dealing off role players for additional picks and working to get a good selection in the upcoming NBA Draft Lottery.
There is going to be a lot of continuous chatter about the Blazers until the NBA trade deadline arrives on February 23. It is at that point that Blazers fans will know whether the front office is pulling in the sails or working hard to make the NBA Playoffs. Maybe it’s even possible that some postseason magic could be waiting for Blazers fans. The realistic approach at this point, though, would be for the front office of the Portland Trail Blazers to work at acquiring another first-round pick and re-tooling for next year.
[Featured Image by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]