Monday night was a tough one for the Portland Trail Blazers’ faithful as they fell to the lowly Los Angeles Lakers 107-106; and it was at home. There were many facets of the game that the Blazers failed to be successful in, but ultimately it was yet again a slow start that did them in. The Lakers opened up a first quarter lead of 33-20 and though Portland outscored L.A. every quarter after the first, the early deficit proved to be too great.
Losses like these really sting. Not only because good teams shouldn’t lose to teams that are playing with a band of misfits (sorry Wesley Johnson, Kent Bazemore and Jodie Meeks but it’s true!); but because playoff seeding is at stake. Playoff positioning will be very important as teams head into the NBA playoffs this postseason and while teams will give you the obligatory, “I don’t care who we play,” we know otherwise.
If the playoffs started today, the Blazers would own the third seed and would find themselves in a dangerous, yet winnable, series with the Golden State Warriors. Portland has split their two games versus the Warriors this year (both on the road) and still have two yet to play against the run and gun style of GSW. This is a perfect matchup, not because it’s the Warriors, but because it’s NOT the Clippers or Rockets — whom the Blazers have struggled against.
Portland is 1-2 versus the Rockets and 1-1 against the Clips — the regular season finale will be against the Clippers and it could hold heavy seeding implications.
Perhaps even more important than dodging the Clippers or Rockets, is that the Blazers would be opposite Oklahoma City. If they were to beat the Warriors in the opening round, then they would face either the Phoenix Suns (whom they are 1-2 against) or the San Antonio Spurs, whom they are 2-1 against. It might sound crazy, but the Blazers would be rooting for the Spurs in this scenario, because due to style they are the more beatable team for Portland. The Suns’ and their stretch bigs have given the Blazers fits in every head-to-head matchup so far this year.
If by chance this scenario were to work out, then it’s safe to assume they would be meeting the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals and they have held their own against their old Northwest foes (RIP Sonics) going 2-2 this season.
Now, I know this may seem far-fetched but imagine this matchup in the WCF. Two teams that flat-out do not like each other. Take it from Durant as he told reporters after their last matchup:
“We respect this team, they respect us. But we don’t like them and they don’t like us. That’s point-blank.”
When Durant’s comments were relayed to Portland star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, he rebutted with:
“We don’t care to like them…we’re not trying to make friends out there. We’re trying to win games.”
If that doesn’t get your blood boiling for a seven game series between these two Western conference powerhouses I don’t know what will. As for me if this matchup were to occur (especially in the WCF) then I’ll turn on some of Pharrell’s “Happy” album and start clappin’ cause it would be one hell of a show.