NBA Playoff Odds: Will the Trail Blazers Make the Postseason?
Alika Jenner/Getty Images. Pictured: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Portland Trail Blazers NBA Playoff Odds
|Current Place||No. 7|
|Data as of Tuesday, odds via DraftKings|
The Trail Blazers were being priced as if they are a lock to make the playoffs — their yes/no odds -1115/+600 at DraftKings entering last weekend — but that has dropped significantly since.
Entering Tuesday, the Blazers are 32-28 with a Pythagorean Expectation of just 29-31, which suggests they’re fortunate to be over .500. It’s possible that is starting to catch up to them as they have lost five straight games and eight of their past 10.
The Blazers have engineered late-season pushes to make the playoffs in past years, but this time could be different. Damian Lillard is fighting through a hamstring injury, and there are rumblings that head coach Terry Stotts is on the hot seat. Like every other season in the Lillard-Stotts era, the Trail Blazers are excellent on offense and downright abysmal on defense.
This season those attributes are being pushed to the extreme despite having a capable wing defender in Robert Covington on the roster. Portland ranks fifth in Offensive Rating (117.3) and 29th in Defensive Rating (117.6) in its non-garbage-time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass.
The defense has been so bad that the team is winning almost exclusively because of Lillard’s late-game brilliance. In the 35 games the Trail Blazers have played that have reached clutch-time, the they have 22-12 record with a 126.4 Offensive Rating and 100.0 Defensive Rating.
The Blazers have the second-toughest remaining strength of schedule with 12 games to go. Eight of those games are on the road, including a six-game road trip with games against the Memphis Grizzlies, Brooklyn Nets, and Boston Celtics. The Blazers close the season against the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets and could be in real jeopardy if those teams aren’t resting players.
I’m not saying Portland will miss the playoffs, but it feels like it’s on a path toward a play-in game for the second straight season. Lillard has saved this team time and time again, but you have to wonder is the clock running out on this incarnation of the Blazers?