The Oregon Trail: The Portland Trail Blazers

With the NBA’s All Star Weekend coming to the forefront this weekend, the NBA is at its mid-point of the season and while many teams have played sub par, others have met expectations and a select few have come out of nowhere and surprised us all.  The Portland Trail Blazers are one of those surprise teams.  Currently the Trail Blazers have a record of 36-17 which has earned them the 5th seed in the NBA’s Western Conference playoff race however they’re only six games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder who are the current leaders in the west.  Despite being 5th, the 36 wins by the Blazers are a huge accomplishment considering that last season they had a total of 33 wins which left them out of the playoff picture.  But will this last? 

The Blazers have lost four of their last ten games including the last two to the Los Angeles Clippers and Thunder.  The Blazers have two NBA All-Stars in forward LaMarcus Aldridge who leads the team in points with 23.9 points per game as well in rebounds with 11.4 per game.  Damian Lillard leads the team in assists with 5.7 per game and is an explosive 2nd year point guard making his presence known with his involvement in seemingly all of the All-Star Weekend festivities.  Lillard is as efficient as they come in a point guard putting up 20.7 points per game while partner in crime Aldridge will also be competing in the All-Star game though neither will be starting. With all the attention surrounding those two in Oregon it leaves a lot of pieces unnoticed.  Nicolas Batum is quietly putting up 5.4 assists and 6.5 rebounds a game which are career highs and he’s also leading the team in steals.  The Blazers are a respectable 19-6 at home while being a questionable 17-11 on the road leaving the question to be asked if they could have any post season success without having home court advantage.  With the success of the Westbrook-less Thunder and usual performance coming from the San Antonio Spurs it would be hard for the Blazers to pull off a win on the road from one let alone both of these teams. Then there’s the two time defending NBA Champion Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers on the horizon both of which will be eyeing an NBA title.  With the level of competition rising at an alarming rate there are many questions to be answered and stones to be turned but this season is for sure the Blazers best hope to blaze through the Oregon Trail and return to the playoffs for the first time since being defeated by Dallas in 2011.

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