The NBA playoffs 2017 schedule may include the Portland Trail Blazers after all. In the latest NBA playoff standings, the Blazers are only one game behind the Denver Nuggets for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Portland and Denver could have been tied, but the Blazers stumbled against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night (March 21), losing a game that the team probably should have won.
The loss to the Bucks dropped the Blazers to 32-38 on the season, leaving just 12 games on the NBA schedule to make up that one-game deficit. The biggest game on the Blazers’ 2017 schedule comes on March 28, when the team plays host to the Nuggets. Winning that game would secure the head-to-head tiebreaker for the Blazers, as they would win the season series 3-1 over the Nuggets. This would be a huge advantage in the 2017 NBA playoff standings.
There had been quite a few Portland Trail Blazers rumors as the trade deadline hit, but the team ended up benefiting a lot from a surprise deal with the Denver Nuggets. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the Blazers sent popular center Mason Plumlee to the Nuggets in exchange for center Jusuf Nurkic and a first-round selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. That pick originally belonged to the Memphis Grizzlies, but it gives the Blazers the third first-round selection. To complete that deal, the Blazers also sent back a second-round pick from the 2018 NBA Draft.
Nurkic has worked out brilliantly for the Blazers, giving the team an energetic big man who has made an impact on both ends of the court. Jusuf Nurkics’ stats since joining the Blazers include averages of 14.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.1 blocks, and 1.5 steals per game. The deal has been quite the steal for the Blazers, moving the team up the 2017 NBA playoff standings and steering them further away from being in the NBA Lottery again.
The NBA playoffs 2017 schedule will tip off at the end of April, showing just how little time the Portland Trail Blazers have left to secure a spot. Currently, the Memphis Grizzlies (40-31) hold the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, putting the team six-and-a-half games ahead of the Nuggets. Memphis is also battling with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 6 seed, suggesting that neither team is going to slow down in the coming days.
This all means that the Blazers and Nuggets are left battling for the only available playoff spot. It certainly raises the excitement level for the games left on the regular-season schedule, as anything can happen in the final three weeks. The teams also may have to continue worrying about the New Orleans Pelicans, as the team continues to improve since acquiring DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings. The Pelicans are still three-and-a-half games behind the Nuggets, but they are coming on strong.
Breaking down the schedule for the Blazers shows that the team has a very good shot at moving up the 2017 NBA playoff standings. The Blazers get to play the Minnesota Timberwolves three times, the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Phoenix Suns. They do have a difficult game against the Houston Rockets next week and an even tougher opponent in the San Antonio Spurs on April 10, but the Spurs could be resting all their starters in preparation for the 2017 NBA Playoffs. Schedules couldn’t be any better at this point for the Blazers.
For the team that secures the No. 8 seed in the 2017 NBA playoff standings, a first-round matchup likely awaits against the Golden State Warriors. The Portland Trail Blazers fared poorly against the Warriors during the regular season, getting swept in all four games against the best team in the league. That’s a tough reward for the team that plays better down the stretch, with many NBA analysts suggesting now is the time to “tank” for a better draft pick. Finding a place in the 2017 NBA playoffs schedule, though, would certainly please a lot of die-hard Blazers fans.
[Featured Image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]