Portland Trail Blazers playoff time has finally arrived. The schedule has the Blazers opening the 2015 NBA Playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies, and the expected bad news is that the series starts on the road. Despite clinching the No. 4 seed in the final Western Conference standings, the Blazers had a worse record than the No. 5 Grizzlies. It means that the first two games of this playoff series will begin on the road. For a team that had a 19-22 record away from Moda Center, there are some tough games awaiting.
According to the full release by NBA.com, the Portland Trail Blazers' playoff schedule tips off on Sunday, April 19. Game 1 begins at 5 p.m. PT and will be shown on TNT. Game 2 for the Blazers-Grizzlies series takes place on Wednesday (April 22), and will also begin at 5 p.m. PT on TNT. The teams then head to Portland for Game 3 on April 25 at 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN, and then Game 4 on April 27 at 7:30 p.m. PT on TNT.
The rest of the 2015 NBA Playoffs first-round schedule for the Blazers and Grizzlies has games on April 29 in Memphis, May 1 in Portland, and May 3 in Memphis. Those games are only scheduled if necessary and don't have times released from the league office yet. If one of the teams sweeps the first four games, then they won't even be necessary, but this series looks very well-matched. That could mean it ends up going the full seven games.
As revealed by ESPN.com, the Portland Trail Blazers got swept by the Memphis Grizzlies in the regular season series. That includes a loss by nine points on March 21 in Memphis and two previous losses during the season in Portland. In all, the Grizzlies have beaten the Blazers four times this year by an average of eight points. For the Las Vegas oddsmakers, that makes it pretty easy to predict first-round playoff victory by the Grizzlies.
LaMarcus Aldridge returned to the court for the Blazers on Wednesday night (April 15), giving him some active minutes before the playoff schedule begins. He had missed the prior two games due to a left foot sprain, but Blazers coach Terry Stotts felt he needed to work off some rust before the 2015 NBA Playoffs. He scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 30 minutes of action, but the team still lost to the Dallas Mavericks. That could be blamed on Nicolas Batum, Arron Afflalo, Chris Kaman, and C.J. McCollum all being rested to allow prior injuries to heal.
If the injury concerns to LaMarcus Aldridge were the only problems that the Blazers had to worry about this postseason, the team wouldn't be on such shaky ground. As it stands, though, they won't have starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews for the entire series against the Memphis Grizzlies. He is out with a torn Achilles tendon and won't be late in the next NBA season. Batum has a hurt knee, McCollum has an ankle sprain, Kaman has a bad back, and Afflalo is dealing with a strained shoulder. As previously reported on the Inquisitr, Afflalo was acquired at the trade deadline to add depth to the roster.
Getting a healthy Aldridge back on the court gives the Blazers a much better chance to compete with the Memphis Grizzlies, because the All-Star power forward is a walking double-double. Even with his injured foot and wrist, Stotts won't be able to keep Aldridge off the court when the Portland Trail Blazers open the 2015 NBA Playoffs. If they advance past this first-round series, the Blazers would play the winner of the Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans series in the second round.
[Image Source: Steve Dykes/Getty Images]