The Portland Trail Blazers are officially in the playoffs following a win over the New Orleans Pelicans, and it will be the first time the team plays a postseason game since 2011.
Needless to say, the Blazers are ready to get back to the playoffs. This is an organization that is hungry to find success, and making the postseason is Step 1 toward making that happen.
Step 2? That would be winning a seven-game series. Portland hasn’t seen the second round since the 1999-00 season, and simply put: Home-court advantage could make or break the Blazers’ success during Round 1.
Any win moving forward will help Portland’s cause, but for now, we’ll take a look back at Week 23 and its highlights.
April 1 @ Los Angeles Lakers
The Trail Blazers haven’t played many nationally televised games this season, but on April 1, they got the chance to show the NBA world what they’re capable of.
Knock the competition if you want, but this was a Lakers squad that had used its offense to take down superior opponents as of late. The team even knocked off the Blazers back on March third at the Moda Center.
Portland exacted its revenge at the Staples Center in this one, and while Nick Young did score 40 for L.A., it was LaMarcus Aldridge (31 PTS, 15 REB, 2 BLK) and Damian Lillard (34 PTS, 8 AST, 50.0 3PT%) who walked away victorious.
April 4 vs. Phoenix Suns
Portland entered this contest on a four-game winning streak. The team had clearly turned things around, and all it needed was one more win to clinch a spot in the 2014 postseason.
Unfortunately, the team coming to town was the Phoenix Suns — a squad that has had the Trail Blazers’ number all year.
The Suns have been an unlikely adversary this season for Portland. Phoenix was supposed to be one of the worst teams in the Western Conference — if not the worst — yet they’d beaten the Blazers two out of three times before April 4.
Despite having a narrow lead most of the way, Portland fell apart in the fourth quarter. It was outscored 30-13, giving the Suns a 109-93 win when the clock struck zero.
April 6 vs. New Orleans Hornets
Like the game before, Portland needed this one to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Unlike the game before, the team took care of business, earning its 50th win on the year.
When looking at the box score, it’s easy to see who ran the show. Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews each scored 20 and 21 points respectively, but it’s LaMarcus Aldridge who posted 25 and 18 while blocking four shots in the process.
The Blazers have work to do if they’re going to win a championship, but it’s been a season of improvements, and the team is fighting for home-court advantage with the playoffs around the corner.