The Portland Trail Blazers have enjoyed a decent 2020-21 NBA season despite two of their starters missing many games in the first half of the campaign. The team has spent most of the season among the top six in the Western Conference; however, it ranks seventh in the West right now with a 34-28 record and seems destined to stay among the Play-In places.
The Portland Trail Blazers seem destined to start their postseason with the Play-In tournament
The Portland Trail Blazers are only half a game behind the sixth-placed Dallas Mavericks in the fight for the last spot to get direct entry to the NBA Playoffs. Still, the team's postseason is likely to start with the Play-In tournament.
This article will give you three reasons the Portland Trail Blazers (34-28) could be heading to the Play-In tournament.
#3 The offense can't overcome the team's defensive woes in the long term
The Portland Trail Blazers have spent the entire 2020-21 NBA season as an elite offensive team in the league. They currently rank sixth in Offensive Rating, with 116.4 points scored per 100 possessions so far.
However, the Portland Trail Blazers' defense has been a serious concern, and simply put, they are the worst defensive team among those looking to enter the NBA Playoffs.
Portland has allowed 116.5 points per 100 possessions in the 2020-21 campaign and ranks 29th in Defensive Rating, only ahead of the Sacramento Kings.
Portland's offense and Damian Lillard's greatness have managed to overcome defensive struggles in most games so far. However, as soon as Lillard struggles, the team does not get timely stops on the defensive end.
Lillard has struggled with shooting the ball in the last 11 games, and the team has a 4-7 record in that span. He is putting up a little over 21 points in that stretch and has made only 36% of his field goals. The defense has not been able to put the team ahead of its rivals.
#2 Recent struggles
Momentum is a factor to consider when discussing the NBA Playoffs, and the Portland Trail Blazers' struggles in their previous games could be an ominous sign for the team during the final stages of the 2020-21 season.
The Blazers have lost 10 of their last 15 games, including losses against direct rivals for postseason seeding. Portland has been unable to defeat some of the best teams in the Western Conference this year, which has hampered their quest for direct entry to the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
If Damian Lillard does not return to his best form in the remaining games of the 2020-21 NBA season, the Portland Trail Blazers' struggles could send them to the Play-In tournament.
#1 Portland's remaining schedule is harsh
Beating the Sacramento Kings in their most recent game was a much-needed result for the Blazers, as they put two wins together for the first time in April.
The win over the Kings was essential because the Portland Trail Blazers' ten remaining games will be challenging. The team's remaining schedule includes games against the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns on the road. They will also face the LA Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets at home.
The Portland Trail Blazers have a 3-10 record against the competitive teams remaining on their schedule (Brooklyn, Boston, Atlanta, Utah, Phoenix, LA Lakers, Spurs and Nuggets). They desperately need to get good results to return to the top 6 of the Western Conference.