So with two games to go in the seeding round, the Trail Blazers have a very good chance to not only reach the play-in game(s) but to grab the coveted eighth seed.
And they also have a good chance of being the ninth seed.
And, it seems to me, a pretty good chance of being left out entirely.
You see, I just can’t get a handle on this Portland team. Or the rest of the field in Orlando, for that matter.
The Trail Blazers entered the bubble with as much motivation as any team down there. They were burning to prove their lackluster season was a product of missing key players and that getting a second chance at the playoffs wasn’t a “waste of time.”
So far, they have proved that what they did in the part of the season before the pandemic hit, is still part of their DNA. They are still struggling to put lesser teams away, failing to hold onto leads, suffering through rough third quarters and playing just about the worst defense we’ve seen them play in years.
Against some teams that obviously aren’t all that concerned about winning or losing.
Portland today meets the Dallas Mavericks, who sat Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis -- their two best players -- Monday against Utah and still won, because the Jazz didn’t seem too intent on winning the game.
That’s the problem in Orlando -- it’s difficult to tell who cares about these games and who doesn’t. And the teams that don’t care seem to win more often than they should.
If the Trail Blazers defeat the Mavericks and then Brooklyn on Thursday, they have a great chance to steal the No. 8 seed heading into the play-in.
And I believe whichever team ends up eighth will be in the playoffs, because defeating it twice in two days will be a monumental task for any of these teams.
But honestly, I could see Portland going 0-2 almost as easily as 2-0, with the way it is playing, The Trail Blazers, in spite of all their size up front, aren’t rebounding well and aren’t getting enough scoring in the paint.
And, of course, they have a devil of a time getting stops, particularly in the second half.
They are reliant on the three-point shot and have been fortunate enough to see a lot of those go in. But it’s a tightrope walk at the end of every game, with those three-point shots and that shaky defense being put to the test.
So I will watch and not be surprised by any outcome, yet still -- in spite of all their problems -- thinking the Portland Trail Blazers are the best of the teams with a shot at getting that final Western Conference playoff berth.
But wondering if, in the end, they are going to just be wasting their time.