Monday, February 11, 2008

Blazers and the Playoffs, Neat Idea

When the win streak hit double digits earlier this season, a whole mess of fans and analysts started talking playoffs. Why not? The team was even on pace to secure homecourt in the first round, and you definitely don’t rattle off 13 straight by accident. It was all part of this young squad’s meteoric rise to the top. Funny thing about that cliche, I’ve always known meteors to be more famous for crashing downward and flaming out. This hasn’t quite been a meteoric fall, but all that playoff talk has certainly died down. That improbable winning-induced euphoria showed us a glimpse of what this team is on a path to become. The rest of the season (the 5-12 start, the 3-7 last ten, the not having won back to back since January 9th) is telling us to back away from assuming that this young team has really arrived so early.

Right now Portland has the tenth best record in the West, good for third in the Northwest Division. Of the two teams ahead of them, Utah is 9-1 and Denver is 7-3 over their last ten. When you factor in that veteran playoff teams usually start cranking it up a notch after the All-Star Break, the once firm belief that had Portland playoff bound seems a little more fanciful. Charles was right.

Then again, we could get ambushed by another improbable win streak. For better or worse (mostly better) this team has a habit of surprising us. This ship could be righted. Of course, it was never supposed to be so right in the first place. Maybe it is still on course. All we really know is that I’ve carried this crappy ship analogy too far. I hear the argument that missing the playoffs this season can help the long-term, nobody is mad at adding a lottery pick to Kevin Pritchard’s arsenal. I also hear the argument that early success and playoff experience would add significantly to the maturity of the team. I’ll leave that argument to Blazers Edge. Enjoy the ride.

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