The Blazers control their own destiny with two games remaining, squaring off against the Suns and Nuggets before play-in and postseason play begin.
Coming off a win against the Jazz, owners of the best record in the NBA, the Blazers have the opportunity to clinch an eighth consecutive playoff berth vs. the No. 2 Suns Thursday night.
Portland, winners of five straight and nine of their last 10, have found their stride when needed most to stay above the play-in line and enter the postseason with some momentum.
“The way we been playing over the last few weeks has been our best basketball,” said Damian Lillard. “We been defending and sharing the ball. I think we’ve been able to sustain that level of focus and that level of play for longer periods of time and that’s why we been winning games.”
Waiting until the end of the regular-season to gain a consistent pulse before clinching a playoff spot is the identity of the Lillard-era Blazers.
“Being able to perform and get the job done at the end of the season is a return on our investment over the course of the season,” said Damian Lillard. “Just from not skipping steps and staying real with it all the way through every day.”
The question will be if the team can maintain their hot play against the league’s elite to end the season and come playoff time. Portland currently holds a 5-13 record against the league’s elite -- Nets, Nuggets, Clippers, Lakers, Sixers, Sixers, Bucks, Jazz, and Suns.
Their record against the elite could easily be 3-15, but they recently won two games against the Lakers, without LeBron James, and Nets, without Kevin Durant and James Harden.
A win is a win, but context matters and a glance at their record against the title contenders is tough to look at.
In their next two games though, Phoenix and Denver will be playing their stars, and it’ll serve as a great test for Portland to have some confidence against the top teams.
It's the end of the regular season-- players are tired both mentally and physically, as well as banged up from a condensed schedule.
These two games are paramount to the Blazers momentum heading into the playoffs. If they win, they avoid the play-in game. If they falter, it could spin their momentum back the other direction.
Thursday, the Trail Blazers are +5 point underdogs against the Suns, odds provided by our partner PointsBet.
Will the Blazers be able to keep their momentum moving forward?