Where do the Trail Blazers stand after a rough homestand heading into another extended road trip? It depends on what you expected.
It's entirely possible that in a week, the Trail Blazers are coming home from a four-game road trip with a .500 record on the season after their surprising 10-6 start.
They open in Milwaukee against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, who will likely be without Khris Middleton but have still looked like title favorites to start the year. Then they go to Cleveland to face what has so far been a very good Cavs team. Then they go to New York to play a Brooklyn Nets team that already beat them last week, as well as the Knicks, who aren't very good but aren't an easy out most nights.
They'll have to do all of this once again without Damian Lillard, who is expected to miss at least the start of the road trip after re-aggravating his right calf. Don't be surprised if he sits the entire four-game swing out of an abundance of caution. It would be in line with the way the Blazers have handled injuries thus far this season, and they feel comfortable in their ability to win tough games on the road without him.
It's unlikely the Blazers actually go 0-4 on the trip, but it's possible. It's equally possible they go 3-1. Their last road trip would have been a success at 3-3; instead, they went 4-2 and were a Spencer Dinwiddie three-point explosion away from possibly going 5-1.
How any of those finishes make you feel about where they are as a team depends on where your expectations were going into the season. For me, nothing has changed. I didn't think they were doomed after their listless preseason showing, and I didn't think they had vaulted into title contention after coming home from that first extended road trip with a 9-4 record. On our preseason predictions podcast, Erik and I both predicted they'd make the playoffs as a No. 7 or 8 seed out of the play-in tournament. I'm comfortable now upgrading that prediction and saying I think they'll be top-six in the west, barring a catastrophic injury.