Charles Barkley is such a fan of the Blazers he placed a $100K bet at the beginning of the season of the team making the Western Conference Finals.
He put his money where his mouth has been for the past few seasons on Portland, believing in them to make a deep playoff run.
The only problem is he may not see much of a return on his investment due to the team having yet to clinch a playoff berth with now just one game remaining.
In the team’s last outing against Phoenix, they overcame a 10-point deficit only to blow a three-point lead with 34.7 seconds remaining; missed multiple free-throws in the closing seconds to seal the win; and fouled Devin Booker as he was attempting a difficult shot for the win.
The Blazers could have clinched a playoff spot with a win last night.
But, alas... it will come down to the final game of the regular season to determine their fate.
“They blew that game tonight,” Barkley said of the Trail Blazers. “They outplayed the Suns tonight. They blew that game missing free-throws and making a bonehead play down the stretch.”
Now, it all comes down to one. One game for the Blazers to control their fate and clinch a playoff spot.
Their opportunity will come on Sunday on NBCSNW at 6:00 pm against the Denver Nuggets, a team they’ve played closely this season but have lost both games to the Nuggets this season.
For Portland, it’s simple: win and you’re in.
A lot more will be clarified by the time Portland plays on Sunday, as the Mavericks and Lakers play their penultimate games on Friday. The Blazers have won their season series against both teams at 2-1 each, giving them the tiebreaker if needed.
“If you got one game at home, you got to win,” said Barkley. “Especially if it’s either being in the regular playoffs or playing in the play-in game, you gotta win that game at home.”
Shaquille O’Neal, a man with a history with the Blazers, thinks the philosophy entering their regular-season final is simple: “If I’m Terry Stotts, I’m going in the locker room saying, ‘Watcha gonna do? We needed this game tonight, this is our game seven and we lost. We had two games left, watcha gonna do? I shouldn’t have to write out plays on the board and tell you to play hard, watcha gonna do?’”
Entering Friday, Portland has a 97.2% chance to clinch a playoff spot.