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Blazers Take The 8th Seed, But Will They Keep It?

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On Sunday night, the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in a 97-81 victory. Just before the Blazers’ win in LA, the Denver Nuggets had just been blown out by the Demarcus Cousins-less New Orleans Pelicans 115-90, to open the opportunity for Portland to go and grab the 8th seed right from Denver.

After both games’ final buzzers sounded, Portland and Denver were now both 35-38 with Portland in control of the tiebreaker. The Nuggets had no intentions of making the playoffs when the season began, while the Blazers, on the other hand, have had expectations through the roof after being just two games away from going to the Western Conference Finals last season.

Both teams have been in completely opposite directions all year, but now that the Blazers are finally in a playoff spot, with the only backcourt in the NBA that has both players sitting in the top 15 in points per game, the only concern is if they can keep Portland in the playoffs with just nine games remaining in the regular season.

Photo From Blazer’s Edge

The Denver Nuggets have the more favorable schedule coming up, as they only have 3 games on their schedule left against teams with a record of .500 or over. Portland has a much more difficult road, as they’ll face the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, the Minnesota Timberwolves twice and also the Utah Jazz twice as well. Both teams have been very streaky this season, fortunately for Portland, they’ve gone 11-3 in the month of March, opposed to Denver’s 8-5 record.

The Trail Blazers clearly have the better overall talent and after acquiring Jusuf Nurkic from Denver before the trade deadline in February, Portland has only become more dangerous. Since Nurkic has been a member of the Blazers, he’s had some impressive numbers that include 7 double-doubles along with his 14 points per game average and 10.1 rebounds, Nurkic is having his greatest NBA spurt in his 3 year NBA career.

Not only has Nurkic been having a tremendous spurt, but 2x All-Star Damian Lillard has been doing his best during this late playoff push. Since February 23, Lillard has been averaging 30 points per game, while shooting 47% from the field to ignite Portland’s playoff hopes into March and April. As long as Damian Lillard keeps this pace up, the Blazers are a tough team to beat, even for the 1 seeded Golden State Warriors.

With nine games remaining, ironically enough, Denver will be traveling to Portland Tuesday to face the Trail Blazers in hopes to get their playoff spot back. Portland and Denver have until April 12th now to prove who’s the more superior team and who has what it takes to face the Dubs this postseason. Whoever clinches the spot will try and make history, by becoming the first Western Conference 8th seed to knock off a 1st seeded team since the Grizzlies did back in 2011.

About Juwan M. Davis

Editor/Writer for NBALEAD. Born and raised in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Living in Los Angeles. Minnesota Timberwolves fan.
Twitter: @JuwanMalikDavis

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