Who The Blazers Will Meet in the Playoffs
Monday, April 13, 2015
This much we know: the Blazers are locked into the four seed and will open the playoffs on the road, without home court advantage.
Who they'll play remains murky, and will likely remain so until the final games of the regular season wrap.
That said, it's possible to make an educated guess. As of Sunday morning, the Blazers had a 46% chance of meeting the Grizzlies, according to Ben Alamar, Director of Production Analytics at ESPN.
Updated first round matchup odds for the West: pic.twitter.com/NZJNHc7gHu— Ben Alamar (@BenAlamar) April 12, 2015
After the Grizzlies, the Blazers have a 21% chance of meeting the Rockets, a 19% of meeting the Spurs, and a 14% of meeting the Clippers. As of Monday morning, each team was tied at 26 losses, and the list of tie-breaking scenarios are dizzying.
In short, if the numbers play out as projected, Portland have better than 2-to-1 odds of opening the playoffs in Memphis.
Which wouldn't appear to bode well for the Blazers, as the Grizzlies swept the season series, 4-0. The Blazers are 2-and-1 against the Rockets, 3-and-1 against the Spurs and 1-and-3 against the Clippers.
But those numbers are largely misleading, as injuries have changed the makeup of the rosters. In a lot of ways Portland were stronger in the early-going, when Wesley Matthews was in the lineup. On the other hand, many of those potential opponents are coming to full-strength for the first time.
In other words: regardless of who they meet in the first round, the Blazers aren't likely be favored.
As such, the Blazers would be better focusing on themselves than the scoreboads.
Since Portland's position is clinched, the remaining two games of the season are essentially meaningless. That being the case, the Blazers should rest their starters Monday against the Thunder.
Should the players and coach find some value in getting a lather and a rhythm going Wednesday, it might be worthwhile to play at least limited minutes in the season finale in Dallas, but nothing extensive.
Depending on how the schedules and match-ups break, the Blazers could remain on the road until the playoffs begin.
In that case the rest becomes even more important--especially as the Blazers could end up opening the playoffs against a team who fought for playoff standing through the season's final game.
Indeed, coming in with fresh legs and a spring in their step against a team who fought to the finish line could be perfect prescription for the Blazers to steal back home court.