How Do You Define Success?
Currently the Blazers have a 34-32 record. If you think back to mid-September when the news hit that Greg Oden would miss the entire 07-08 season, we bet every Blazer fan would be thrilled with a record over .500 with a month left in the season. But after watching the brilliance of December, are fans satisfied with the record to date?
What Defines a successful season for the Blazers?
Last years team finished 32-50. This year the Blazers have already passed this mark with the same core team as last season, except Zach Randolph, the team’s leading scorer. Early in the season (November), we kept hearing on talk radio that this year’s squad is simply not as good as last year’s team, as they could not fill the hole that Randolph left, not without Oden playing, at least.
This young Blazers team has proven their critics wrong. This team is a more solid, consistent squad than last years. We are sure most Blazers fans are happy to date with the performance this season. So the question now is, come April 16th, what would you consider a successful season for the Blazers? A playoff berth? A .500 record? The chance to get another quality draft pick?
What Lies Ahead
Here is the schedule for the remainder of the season. The ones in bold are home games. We have added two additional columns, one that denotes if the opponent is a playoff team, the other signals whether the game is played on a back-to-back night:
|Minnestoa||March 15, 2008|
|Phoenix||March 18, 2008||Playoff Team|
|Clippers||March 21, 2008|
|Clippers||March 22, 2008||Back-to-Back|
|Seattle||March 24, 2008|
|Washington||March 25, 2008||Playoff Team||Back-to-Back|
|Golden State||March 27, 2008||Playoff Team|
|Charlotte||March 29, 2008|
|Lakers||April 2, 2008||Playoff Team|
|Houston||April 3, 2008||Playoff Team||Back-to-Back|
|San Antonio||April 6, 2008||Playoff Team|
|Lakers||April 8, 2008||Playoff Team|
|Sacramento||April 11, 2008|
|Dallas||April 12, 2008||Playoff Team||Back-to-Back|
|Memphis||April 15, 2008|
|Phoenix||April 16, 2008||Playoff Team||Back-to-Back|
Can the Blazers win 7 of these last 16 games to secure a .500 record for the year? The good news is that 10 of the 16 games are being played in the Rose Garden. The bad news is that 9 of the remaining games are against playoff bound teams. There are also 5 games played on a back-to-back night. The road ahead is definitely not going to be easy. Based on superior talent, the Blazers should win the games against Minnesota, the Clippers (twice), the Sonics, the Bobcats, and Memphis. This gives the Blazers 40 wins. They could easily beat Washington at home, and, forgetting last night’s performance, the Kings in Sacramento. If they win all eight of these games they hit 42 wins, and finish over .500. If they play well, there is no reason why they could not win half of the remaining eight games against Western Conference Playoff teams, which could put them at an extremely respectable 46-36 (especially for a team that was supposed to struggle without Randolph).
What To Do?
The next question is should the Blazers strive for as many wins as possible for the remainder of the season? The Blazers are currently 7 games behind Golden State for the 8th playoff spot in the west. It is unlikely the Blazers will catch them. Should they continue to play hard and improve as a team? Or should they pack in the season and give themselves a better shot at getting a top pick in the NBA Lottery? Over the last couple of weeks BlazersOG has profiled some college players who the Blazers may draft in June. Would it be worth closing out the season on a sour note to get a solid pick? Would next years team be better served by finishing the season strong and chalking up a record over .500? Or would they be better next year with say, the #5 pick in the draft? Both sides of the debate have valid points, which one do you feel will better serve the Blazers in their final month of the 07-08 season?