Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers obviously face an uphill battle in Orlando when the NBA returns to play in a month.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of confidence on a team that once thought, prior to injuries, it was going to be in the race for a championship.

Injuries heal, though, and the Trail Blazers’ confidence is high. One of those injured players, Zach Collins, figures to reclaim his starting power-forward spot in Orlando, fully healed from a shoulder injury during the season’s third game.

And he says his squad is supremely confident.

“We know we have a shot to win a title, regardless of seeding,” Collins said Thursday during a Thursday online conversation with media. “We’re confident, man.

“The fact that we have had a very trying -- not me, I wasn’t playing through it -- our team has had a very tough year, as far as injuries, and wins and losses.

“The fact that we still have a chance, I think everybody is super excited. Along with that, me and Nurk coming back is going to be huge.”

Certainly it will be very important. 

But keep in mind, the road just to get into the 16-team playoff field is going to be a rough one.

The Trail Blazers will need to keep pace with Memphis, while fighting off the New Orleans Pelicans. Portland has six plus-.500 teams on its eight-game seeding schedule and the Pels have just two.

But if the Blazers can stay within four games of Memphis and edge out New Orleans, they will earn the right to face the Grizzlies in a play-in series.

Portland would then have to beat Memphis twice in a row while the Grizzlies would need just one win over the Trail Blazers.

Keep in mind, this is all in Orlando, where there will be no homecourt, Moda Center, advantage.

And even if that is accomplished, all it likely earns Portland is a best-of-seven, first-round playoff series against LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers.

And everyone knows how difficult the Western Conference playoffs can be, even if the Lakers could somehow be vanquished.

“I wish Rodney (Hood) could be out there with us, that would make us even more dangerous, obviously,” Collins said. “But the team we have now, the guys who had to step up and play big minutes this year, they just got so much experience and got so much better.

“And now we’re going to come back as close to full strength as possible without Rodney. We’re just super confident.