The Next Two Weeks Will Be Crucial in Determining What Kind of Team the Trail Blazers Are
An important stretch is coming up, with five of the next seven games against playoff teams.
The Trail Blazers have had more than a few rough patches this season, but the one they're in right now may be the worst of the year. And they're coming up on a two-week stretch that will go a long way in determining what kind of team they want to be, and what kind of season they want to have.
It hasn't just been the losses—they're 3-6 in the last three weeks, with the three wins coming against terrible Houston, Charlotte and Detroit teams—it's how they've been losing. Two back-to-back losses in Oklahoma City that came down to the final possession. A meltdown on the road against the Stephen Curry-less Warriors. Similar late collapses on this current road trip in Minnesota and Indiana, with the latest coming in a loss to the Pacers in which they did not make a field goal in the final seven and a half minutes of the fourth quarter.
The winnable games the Blazers have dropped are starting to run together, but at the end of the year, they're all going to count the same in the standings. On Sunday, they'll close out the road trip in Toronto; if they lose that one, they'll fall below .500 for the first time this season. As it is, they're ninth in the west, two and a half games back of fourth but just one game up from falling out of the play-in race. And these self-inflicted losses are adding up.
It's been over a month since the Blazers have beaten a team with a winning record—that being Dec. 4 at home against this same Pacers team, albeit with Tyrese Haliburton sidelined—and after the coming two games against the Raptors and Magic, they'll have five in a row against much better teams.
It's a tough stretch to right the ship. But if they can't, it's coming to a time in the calendar when some uncomfortable questions will need to be asked.