Everything you need to know about Trail Blazers East Coast Swing
Buckle up for the longest road trip of the season
The Blazers begin the second half of the season with a brutal stretch in their schedule as Portland embarks on a seven-game, East Coast road trip that tips off on Thursday.
This trip ranges from 2/21 - 3/5 with stops at Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, Charlotte, and Memphis.
With an overall record of 34-23, Portland sits in the fourth seed out West... a game ahead of the Rockets and the tiebreaker over Houston has already been secured.
The Blazers will play 16 of their final 25 remaining games on the road as Portland looks to improve its 10-15 road record. The good news: There are more road games for the Blazers against teams with below .500 records than teams with above .500 records.
Road games remaining vs. .500 teams: 7
Road games remaining vs. sub-.500 teams: 9
Let’s preview this upcoming trip…
Game #1 vs. Trail Blazers East
Thursday’s game in Brooklyn will be the first look at newly acquired backup center Enes Kanter in a Blazers jersey while the 26 year-old big man is expected to be inserted into the rotation immediately.
This will also be the first look for Blazers fans at a couple of former Trail Blazers in Nets gear with both Shabazz Napier and Ed Davis coming off the bench for Brooklyn.
Napier has been in and out of the Net’s rotation all season, while Davis is averaging 5.9 ppg and 8.6 rpg in 58 games as he continues his mentoring ways, but instead of with Blazers young buck Zach Collins its with second-year Nets player Jarrett Allen. Davis and Napier join another former Blazer in Allen Crabbe who is also coming off the bench this season.
Blazers are going to need to get a hand in 3pt Champion Joe Harris’ face, that’s for sure.
Blazers vs. Nets tip-off: 4:30pm on Thursday, February 21st
Game #2 vs. trusted the process Sixers
It’s been a big season for the Sixers, obviously. Philadelphia first traded for Jimmy Butler, which was a big enough splash, but now you could almost call the Sixers a super team.
The 76ers made another big trade before the deadline, this time with the Clippers for Tobias Harris. Harris improves the Sixers bench with his averages of 20.7 points, 2.8 assists, and 7.8 rebounds.
Portland holds a 1-0 series lead over the Sixers after beating Philly 129-95 at Moda Center in late December. In the win, CJ McCollum dropped 35 points on 13-of-18 shooting.
Philadelphia big man Joel Embiid (knee soreness) did not play in that game.
The 76ers are currently 37-21 on the season good for the 5th seed in the East.
Blazers vs. Sixers tip-off: 10:00am on Saturday, February 23rd
Game #3 vs. lowly Cavs
This game against Cleveland is of course a must win for Portland. It could be easily overlooked though. The Cavaliers have won just 12 games all season and sit in the second to last spot in the Eastern Conference, a game ahead the Knicks. Cleveland has won just once in its last six games.
Portland will see another former teammate when they visit Cleveland. It was a whirlwind before the trade deadline for former Blazer Nik Stauskas, but he finally ended up in Cleveland.
The Cavs acquired, now Trail Blazers wing, Rodney Hood at last year's NBA trade deadline. This will be the first time Hood faces his former team after Portland acquired him before this year’s deadline.
As for Portland native, Kevin Love, he has played just six games all season. He is listed as day-to-day according to Rotowire.
Blazers vs. Cavs tip-off: 4:00pm on Monday, February 25th
Game #4 vs. Toronto and Game #5 vs. Boston
The next two games on the slate are the toughest for the Blazers. Boston hasn’t quite lived up to expectations this season, but the still hold a 37-21 record good for the 4th seed in the East and are 7-3 in their last 10 games.
It’ll be interesting to see how the second half of the season shakes out for the team that made it to the East Finals last season before losing the LeBron James and the Cavs.
The Blazers will then face the Raptors next who are 43-16 at the All-Star Break and are currently one game back of the Bucks for the number seed. Toronto leads the NBA with 59 games played and is currently ridding a six-game winning streak.
The Raptors added two new pieces with Marc Gasol and Jeremy Lin. It should be fun to see how Gasol fits in the mix with Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry. No more Mike Conley and Gasol, it’s Lowry and Gasol time now.
Blazers vs. Celtics tip-off: 5:00pm on Wednesday, February 27th
Blazers vs. Raptors tip-off: 5:00pm on Friday, March 1st
Game #6 vs. Charlotte and Game #7 vs. Memphis
This will be the easier part of the trip. Charlotte is fighting for a playoff spot in the Easter Conference with a 27-30 overall record. The Hornets have done well at home, though, with a 19-9 record.
If the first game between Portland and Charlotte is any indication the Blazers should get the victory. The Blazers routed the Hornets 127-96 last month at home behind CJ McCollum’s 30 points in 29 minutes.
The Blazers will play the Grizzlies in the last game of the trip. It looks like Memphis is in total rebuild mode now. The Grizzlies hold the 14th seed in the West with a 23-36 record.
Again, this should be a lock for Portland, but you never know what can happen on the road in your seventh game in 13 days.
Blazers vs. Hornets tip-off: 10:00am on Sunday, March 3rd
Blazers vs. Grizzlies tip-off: 5:00pm on Tuesday, March 5th
Road trip prediction
Going .500 on the road is always the goal, but for this Blazers’ trip I predict Portland will do better than that. I think the Blazers will go 4-3 because, as recent history tells us, Portland does better after getting rest during the All-Star break.
I’m not saying the Blazers are about to go on a 13-game winning streak like last season, but the much needed rest is going to help Portland get another win or two on this trip.
The Trail Blazers don’t return home until March 7th to take on the Thunder and then the Suns, before heading back out on the road for a quick three-game trip.
What’s your prediction for this trip?