Blazers Win Ninth Straight; Longest Active Win Streak in the NBA

The Portland Trail Blazers. One moment they win the NBA Championship of 1977 against the Sixers, the next you choke in the Playoffs with two Finals losses against the Pistons in 1990 and against Jordan's Bulls in 1992. Then comes the controversial Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals where some questionable ref calls gave the Lakers a trip to the 2000 Finals and eventually, the title win against the Pacers. Then comes the 2014 West First Round Game 6 against the Rockets, where Damian Lillard sinks his legendary three pointer at the buzzer to win the Blazers their first series in 14 years. The celebration is timeless at the Moda Center as the Blazers finally think that this is their year to make a playoff run... only to get murdered by the Spurs in 5 games. But this year is different.

Since the All-Star Break, the Blazers have been on a league high 9 game win streak including some wins over Minnesota, Golden State, Utah, and Oklahoma City. And as mid March hits, the Blazers seem to have no signs of slowing down. 4 of their next 5 games are at home including some big matchups against Playoff teams like Heat, Cavs, and the West leading Rockets.

As for Playoff positioning, Portland is 2.5 games up on the Timberwolves and into the third seed in the Western Conference with a 40-26 record and only 16 games left to play. If the season were to end today, the Blazers would have Minnesota as their first round matchup with the winner meeting either the Thunder or Warriors in the Western Semifinals.

How did Portland get onto this hot streak? You can thank the dynamic tandem of C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard. They combined for nearly 60 points with Lillard totaling 28 points and McCollum totaling 30 in Friday's 125-108 victory against Golden State . But it wasn't just the offense that shined on the court. The Blazers defense totaled up 46 rebounds, with more than half combined going to the Bosnian Beast Jusuf Nurkic (11) and Ed Davis (15).

So you may be wondering, how is the Blazers' streak impacting the Western Conference? Let's start with the top two seeds Houston and the Warriors. Even though Portland might not get the #2 seed let alone #1, they are the Warriors and Rockets' biggest threat given the wins against them and the upcoming games against Houston in the closing weeks of the season. I'm going to say this right now, but I think Portland has a legitimate chance of making the Conference Finals pending any seeding changes from the third seed downward. Now onto the Northwest division. As it stands right now, Golden State is winning against the Timberwolves 68-62. If it the score holds up, Portland will be up on the Timberwolves in the division by three games and if the Thunder lose tomorrow, the Blazers will up them at 2.5 games back in the division.

As for the Blazers themselves, they'll have an easy road to end March with, despite some games against tough squads like the Thunder and Rockets. If I had to project their end of season record, with the way they're rolling right now, I would have to put their record between 45-37 and 50-32. Say what you want about the inconsistency of the Blazers over the past couple of years. They are the hottest team in the NBA right now and I could see them being a potent threat come Playoffs.

And so, with all the trouble the Blazers have faced over the past 40 years with controversial calls and some one-and-done playoff series, this might be Portland's best year yet in terms of offensive and defensive depth with Lillard, McCollum, Davis, and Nurkic. Put that all together and you've got yourself a recipe that could lead to a possible deep playoff run in April/May.

The mood in Portland right now?

Win, WIN, WIN!!! 

Martin Howe1 Comment