Blazers playoff odds still give the team a shot at the postseason. For the Portland Trail Blazers to make the 2017 NBA Playoffs, the team will have to at least play better than the Denver Nuggets down the stretch. The Nuggets are currently the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, despite the team trying to unload pieces right before the NBA trade deadline. The Blazers playoff odds also depend on how the Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Dallas Mavericks finish out the regular season.
In the updated NBA standings, the Portland Trail Blazers trail the Denver Nuggets by one-and-a-half games for the final playoff spot in the West. The Mavs are two games back, the Kings and Wolves are three games back, and the Pelicans are now three-and-a-half games back. The acquisition of DeMarcus Cousins has come with a lot of growing pains for the Pelicans, likely projecting that the team won't be able to move up the NBA playoff standings quickly enough to make the postseason. The duo of Cousins and Anthony Davis will return for the 2017-18 NBA season.
Within the Portland Trail Blazers' schedule, the team has 21 games left in the regular season. That's a lot of time to make up the deficit on the Nuggets if the front office, coaching staff, and players want to make it happen. Why wouldn't the Blazers want to make the 2017 NBA Playoffs? Failing to secure a playoff spot would mean entering the NBA Draft Lottery and earning a shot at the No. 1 overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. It's something all of these teams below the Nuggets (and including Denver) have to think hard about in March and April.
As for the new Blazers' playoff odds, the team is receiving a 34.8 percent chance of making the NBA Playoffs. The projected Blazers' record isn't very good, though, with a mark of 36-46 predicted for the full season. Entering play on March 6, the Blazers are at 26-35, meaning the would finish 10-11 over the final 21 games. As for the other teams in the Northwest Division, the Utah Jazz have been given a 100 percent chance, the Oklahoma City Thunder are listed at 99.8 percent, and the Denver Nuggets are at 43.0 percent. Minnesota is at the back with just a 5.1 percent chance.
Breaking down those Blazers' playoff odds a bit further, most of the projections state the team needs to win 38 games to guarantee itself a spot in the 2017 NBA Playoffs. To finish with a 38-44 record, the Blazers would need to end this season with a 12-9 record over the final 21 games. That's not an impossible task, but it would be a significantly higher winning percentage than the group has managed during the 2016-17 NBA season. So far, the Blazers have won only 42.6 percent of their games, but a hot stretch could certainly build momentum and move the team up the NBA playoff standings.
The toughest games left on the Portland Trail Blazers' schedule come against the San Antonio Spurs (March 15 and April 10), the Utah Jazz (April 4 and 8), the Washington Wizards (March 11), the Oklahoma City Thunder (March 7), and the Miami Heat (March 19). There are also some easier games on the Blazers's schedule. The team gets to play the Philadelphia 76ers (March 9), Phoenix Suns (April 1), New York Knicks (March 23), and the Milwaukee Bucks (March 21). There are also three games against the up-and-coming Minnesota Timberwolves.
The most important game left on the Blazers' schedule and the thing that might affect the Blazers' playoff odds the most will come on March 28 against the Denver Nuggets. If the Blazers beat the Nuggets, the team clinches the regular season series and the head-to-head tiebreaker. That would be huge, as it would mean a tie in the final NBA playoff standings would be given to Portland, allowing the team to pass the Nuggets and play in the first-round of the postseason. This is a game die-hard Blazers fans will definitely want to keep an eye on as it gets closer on the NBA docket.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, if the Portland Trail Blazers are the No. 8 seed, the team would have a first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors. That would be a tough matchup for the Blazers, as they have already been swept in the season-series. Having to deal with Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant would be a tough task for any opponent. The San Antonio Spurs have nearly caught the Warriors in the standings, though, so maybe a shakeup in the final standings could be in store for the Western Conference.
The Blazers already own three first-round picks in the 2017 NBA Draft after working out trades with the Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers. The pick acquired from the Nuggets had belonged to the Memphis Grizzlies before an earlier trade took place, so it will come up later in that round. If the Cavs finish with the third-best record in the NBA, then that selection will take place at No. 28. Now it all depends on how the Blazers finish as to where their own pick will fall. If the team makes it to the postseason, it will drop out of the lottery range and be No. 15 at best in the draft order.
There are still a lot of games left to be played in the current NBA season, meaning anything can happen. The trio of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic has looked good in recent games. If Allen Crabbe, Noah Vonleh, Meyers Leonard, Maurice Harkless, and Shabazz Napier can continue playing inspired basketball, the Blazers' playoff odds could keep improving over the next few weeks. The Portland Trail Blazers' schedule provides a lot of favorable matchups down the stretch, and it may simply fall on the team to perform well in the clutch.
[Featured Image by Steve Dykes/Getty Images]