To make the playoffs or not to make the playoffs, that is the question that the Blazers must answer. As of today, before their game against the Nets, the Blazers are 2.5 games behind the Lakers for the 8th and final spot. According to the number crunchers at ESPN, they have a 6.2% chance of making it. The Lakers just lost World Peace for 6 weeks (the season) and the Jazz are in free fall. It could come down to Dallas and Portland. While I’d like for Portland to actually have the ability to draft a good player in the 1st round come June, the Lakers or Jazz may make that impossible if they both struggle down the stretch.
To win is to make the playoffs. If that does occur, it surely looks like a 4-0 defeat at the hands of the Spurs or Thunder. Would that really be worth it? Do the players have anything to gain from that potentially abysmal showing? The team has numerous holes and a lack of depth and a trip to the playoffs for four games won’t do anything to alleviate these issues.
The Blazers will have some cap-space this summer but I would like them to lockup Hickson for a few years. A cheap and talented SG in the 1st rounds could go a long way in helping them improve dramatically next year. In January and February, when Batum and Matthews sustained nagging injuries, the team turned to over-matched players that further stressed the remaining starters. When a team has to turn to Pavlovic for minutes, you know the bench needs some serious off-season attention.
This off-season will be very important to the maturation of the young Blazers. Lillard will be ROY, Batum will be all of 24, and Leonard has shown promise of late. Hell, Hickson is only 24 as well. They could have a very good group of young players. Maybe this is the summer to commit fully with Aldridge or seek avenues to increase the talent of the team by trading away its greatest asset (It worked for Denver!).
Playoffs run or not, I’m very interested in seeing where this ride will take us. I’ll root for them to crush the Thunder or Spurs, I’d just rather them take this year off so they can be more formidable next April.