Portland Trail Blazers 2012-13 Schedule: Monthly Matchups and W-L Predictions

Denim MillwardContributor IIIAugust 7, 2012

Portland Trail Blazers 2012-13 Schedule: Monthly Matchups and W-L Predictions

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    Get ready, Rip City.  Your beloved Trail Blazers kick off their 2012-13 NBA season in a few short months. 

    After a promising 2010-11 season that saw Portland make the playoffs, Brandon Roy's retirement and a slew of injuries threw an Oden-sized monkey wrench into the Trail Blazer's postseason hopes. 

    Head coach Nate McMillan lost his job midway through last season, and interim coach Caleb Kanales did an admirable job in his stead, but is not a shoe-in for the permanent head coaching position. 

    The number of variables in play for Portland are higher than Clyde Drexler's 1988 vertical. 

    For your enjoyment, I have put my prognostication prowess to work in predicting the outcome of every single game for the Blazers' upcoming season.  Key games have been highlighted, best-case and worst-case scenarios have been worked out and the best one-on-one matchups from each month have been examined.

October/November Schedule

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    Wednesday, October 31 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

    Friday, November 2 at Oklahoma City Thunder

    Saturday, November 3 at Houston Rockets

    Monday, November 5 at Dallas Mavericks

    Thursday, November 8 vs. Los Angeles Clippers

    Saturday, November 10 vs. San Antonio Spurs

    Monday, November 12 vs. Atlanta Hawks

    Tuesday, November 13 at Sacramento Kings

    Friday, November 16 vs. Houston Rockets

    Sunday, November 18 vs. Chicago Bulls

    Wednesday, November 21 at Phoenix Suns

    Friday, November 23 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

    Sunday, November 25 at Brooklyn Nets

    Monday, November 26 at Detroit Pistons

    Wednesday, November 28 at Washington Wizards

    Friday, November 30 at Boston Celtics

Key October/November Games

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    Wednesday, October 31 vs. Los Angeles

    Portland's season begins with a bang, as the Blazers open at home against Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and the Los Angeles Lakers. 

    This contest will definitely be baptism by fire for Portland rookies Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard. But I could see Portland pulling this one out if they can take advantage of their raucous home crowd and if the Lakers are still working out all the hitches within their offense.  


    Friday, November 2 at Oklahoma City Thunder

    Portland gets no breather after their opening bout with L.A., as they then travel to the defending Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder.

    Though it's certain that nothing will be decided in the first two games of the season, Portland could make an immense statement with a 2-0 start against two Western Conference juggernauts.

    In reality, they would probably be thrilled with a split here.


    Saturday, November 10 vs. San Antonio Spurs

    The murderous early schedule gets no easier when the San Antonio Spurs come to town.  The perennial powerhouses from the Lone Star State are the Blazers' opponents in game two of a three-game home stand. 

    That early in the season is not the ideal time to face the wily veterans of San Antonio, as the fatigue caused by the rigorous NBA schedule has not set in on their competitors yet.  


    Friday, November 23 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

    This is arguably the most notable game of Portland's season.  After a year of rehabilitation, former Blazer Brandon Roy returns to the Rose Garden as a member of the new-look Timberwolves.

    The Timberwolves also welcome Alexey Shved, Chase Budinger and Andrei Kirilenko.  Reloaded for bear, the Timberwolves should prove to be fierce competition for the Trail Blazers throughout the season. 


    October/November W-L Predictions: 6-10

    Wins:  Rockets, Kings, Suns, Timberwolves, Pistons, Wizards

    Losses:  Lakers, Thunder, Mavericks, Clippers, Spurs, Hawks, Rockets, Bulls, Nets, Celtics

Preview and Predictions for October/November

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of October/November

    Though Tim Duncan is no spring chicken, he still has an arsenal of tricks up his sleeve that he is sure to use on Blazers big man LaMarcus Aldridge

    Aldridge will combat Duncan's astronomical basketball IQ and veteran savvy with superior athleticism and marked toughness and determination down low.  


    The Trail Blazers Have a Best-Case Scenario In October/November If...

    The best-case scenario is if they can survive the murderer's row that is their early November schedule and win multiple games against highly-regarded Western Conference opponents.  With the stark lack of gimmies in October/November, Portland's best-case scenario is right around 10-6. 


    The Trail Blazers Have a Worst-Case Scenario In October/November If...

    Worst-case scenario, they get off to a slow start.  It is not at all out of the question for the Trail Blazers to start 0-7 against seven playoff-caliber ball clubs.  A three and 13 record in November would certainly put an early end to Portland's playoff aspirations. 

December Schedule

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    Saturday, December 1 at Cleveland Cavaliers

    Monday, December 3 at Charlotte Bobcats

    Wednesday, December 5 at Indiana Pacers

    Saturday, December 7 vs. Sacramento Kings

    Monday, December 10 vs. Toronto Raptors

    Thursday, December 13 vs. San Antonio Spurs

    Sunday, December 16 vs. New Orleans Hornets

    Thursday, December 20 vs. Denver Nuggets

    Saturday, December 22 vs. Phoenix Suns

    Sunday, December 23 at Sacramento Kings

    Wednesday, December 26 vs. Sacramento Kings

    Friday, December 28 at Los Angeles Lakers

    Saturday, December 29 vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Key December Games

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    Wednesday, December 5 at Indiana Pacers

    This matchup will be the fifth of a grueling seven-game road trip, and will be against one of the premier teams in the East. 

    It'll be interesting to see if the Blazers have a discernible chip on their shoulder against the team they tried unsuccessfully to woo center Roy Hibbert away from. 


    Sunday, December 16 vs. New Orleans Hornets

    This is your classic trap game.  This will be Portland's first game in three days, and the first after an undoubtedly physical affair against the San Antonio Spurs. 

    The drastically improved Hornets cannot be overlooked, or Portland may find themselves looking at the scoreboard wondering what happened after the final buzzer sounds. 


    Thursday, December 20 vs. Denver Nuggets

    Realistically, every matchup in what promises to be a competitive Northwest Division could be considered a key matchup. 

    The first meeting between Portland and Denver will speak volumes about the relative positions of the two teams and how good each of their playoff chances are.  


    December W-L Prediction: 7-6 (13-16) 

    Wins:  Cavaliers, Bobcats, Kings, Hornets, Nuggets, Suns, Kings

    Losses: Pacers, Raptors, Spurs, Kings, Lakers, 76ers

Preview and Predictions for December

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of December

    Damian Lillard was primarily selected in the lottery by the Blazers for his scoring ability and his leadership on the court.  However, his defensive prowess will certainly be tested when he's matched up against Steve Nash. 

    The meeting of old and new guards will prove to be an entertaining and most likely high-scoring affair that should prove to be one of the Blazers' more high-profile games.  


    The Trail Blazers Have a Best-Case Scenario In December If...

    They can have a best-case scenario if they can find success on the road.  December contains a brutal seven-game road trip that will be of central importance to Portland's December success. 

    The December slate of games contains many more probable wins than the ridiculous November schedule, which should help Portland.  


    The Trail Blazers Have a Worst-Case Scenario In December If...

    Their worst-case scenario is they don't bounce back from a brutal November. 

    If Portland doesn't show some resilience after a brutal start to the season, it could put them in an early hole that they can't climb out of, especially with the seven-game road swing in December. 

January Schedule

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    Tuesday, January 1 at New York Knicks

    Wednesday, January 2 at Toronto Raptors

    Friday, January 4 at Memphis Grizzlies

    Saturday, January 5 at Minnesota Timberwolves

    Monday, January 7 vs. Orlando Magic

    Thursday, January 10 vs. Miami Heat

    Friday, January 11 at Golden State Warriors

    Sunday, January 13 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

    Tuesday, January 15 at Denver Nuggets

    Wednesday, January 16 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

    Saturday, January 19 vs. Milwaukee Bucks

    Monday, January 21 vs. Washington Wizards

    Wednesday, January 23 vs. Indiana Pacers

    Saturday, January 26 vs. Los Angeles Clippers

    Sunday, January 27 at Los Angeles Clippers

    Tuesday, January 29 vs. Dallas Mavericks

Key January Games

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    Tuesday, January 1 at New York Knicks

    The New Year's Day clash between Portland and New York will be a highly visible contest.

    A holiday game in the hallowed halls of Madison Square Garden will certainly have even more eyes on it than normal. 

    Portland's interior will have its hands full against Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.  


    Saturday, January 5 at Minnesota Timberwolves

    Roy/Blazers Round 2 will certainly not be short on dramatics.  This time, Roy and the TWolves will have home-court advantage. 

    Also behooving Minnesota will be the fact that Portland will be playing its third road game in four nights.  


    Thursday, January 10 vs. Miami Heat

    Like every other team in the NBA, Portland will have the first go-round against Miami circled on their calendar. 

    Portland's rabid Rose Garden crowd could tilt the scales in favor of the Trail Blazers, who would get a huge boost of momentum and morale by knocking off the defending champs. 


    January W-L Predictions: 6-10 (19-26)

    Wins:  Raptors, Grizzlies, Warriors, Bucks, Wizards, Clippers

    Losses:  Knicks, Timberwolves, Magic, Heat, Thunder, Nuggets, Cavaliers, Pacers, Clippers, Mavericks

Preview and Predictions for January

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    Best One-on-One Matchup for January

    Some think the Blazers overpaid Nicolas Batum by matching the offer sheet that the French phenom signed with Minnesota.

    Batum could earn a significant portion of that money in one game if he can hold prolific scorer Carmelo Anthony in check when the Blazers face off against the Knicks on New Year's Day.


    The Trail Blazers Get a Best-Case Scenario in January if...

    The Blazers can be successful if they can manage to stay completely healthy through the first month of 2012.  It's usually at this point in the season that nagging injuries begin to take their toll and cause notable players to miss significant time. Portland's big men especially need to avoid the injury, as they are not tremendously deep at that position.


    The Trail Blazers Get a Worst-Case Scenario in January if... 

    They will struggle in January if Batum or Aldridge miss any significant time.  With the jury still out on Lillard, Portland has little star power outside of Batum and Aldridge.  Any traumatic injury to either player could put a knife in the heart of Portland's season. 

February Schedule

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    Friday, February 1 at Utah Jazz

    Saturday, February 2 vs. Utah Jazz

    Monday, February 4 at Minnesota Timberwolves

    Wednesday, February 6 at Dallas Mavericks

    Friday, February 8 at Houston Rockets

    Sunday, February 10 at Orlando Magic

    Tuesday, February 12 at Miami Heat

    Wednesday, February 13 at New Orleans Hornets

    Tuesday, February 19 vs. Phoenix Suns

    Friday, February 22 at Los Angeles Lakers

    Sunday, February 24 vs. Boston Celtics

    Wednesday, February 27 vs. Denver Nuggets

Key February Games

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    Friday, February 1 at Utah Jazz

    It's an unusually late beginning to Portland's series with one of their biggest rivals, the Utah Jazz.  A very general shape for each team's season will have already taken form before they lock horns for the first time.

    Playing a very different looking team in front of one of the most rabid home crowds in the league could prove to be a difficult task for Portland. 


    Monday, February 4 at Minnesota Timberwolves

    No longer really about Brandon Roy playing his old team, this installment of the Blazers/TWolves rivalry will have much more significant playoff implications than the previous contests. 

    Look for a great battle inside between Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge.  


    Sunday, February 24 vs. Boston Celtics

    Will this be a good time to catch the aging Celtics?  It'll either be just in time or too late. 

    Boston always seems to get stuck in midseason doldrums when fatigue and age catch up to them, only to turn their defensive intensity up to 11 late in the season. 

    Portland will hope they can notch a big win versus the Celtics at home. 


    February W-L Predictions: 6-6 (25-32)

    Wins: Timberwolves, Mavericks, Rockets, Magic, Suns, Lakers

    Losses: : Jazz, Jazz, Heat, Hornets, Celtics, Nuggets

Preview and Predictions for February

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of February

    Many Rip City fans feel Wesley Matthews has not lived up to the large contract Portland signed him to as a restricted free agent.  There have even been talk among Blazers fans of wanting to amnesty him after an especially disappointing 2011-12 campaign.

    Matthews will have a huge opportunity to get back in the fans' good graces if he can manage to shut down Dwyane Wade when the Trail Blazers face off against the Heat. 


    The Trail Blazers Will Have a Best-Case Scenario in February if...

    They need to take care of business at home.  February's schedule is very road heavy, which gives Portland even less room for error when playing in the friendly confines of the Rose Garden. 

    Sweeping all February home games and grabbing a few key road wins would be a great outcome.


    The Trail Blazers Will Have a Worst-Case Scenario in February if...

    They cannot let division opponents get the best of them.  The playoff picture will be becoming clearer and clearer throughout February.  If Portland gets swept by their division rivals in February, a definite possibility, they could wind up playing a meaningless March and April.

March Schedule

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    Saturday, March 2 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

    Monday, March 4 vs. Charlotte Bobcats

    Wednesday, March 6 at Memphis Grizzlies

    Friday, March 8 at San Antonio Spurs

    Sunday, march 10 at New Orleans Hornets

    Tuesday, March 12 vs. Memphis Grizzlies

    Thursday, March 14 vs. New York Knicks

    Saturday, March 16 vs. Detroit Pistons

    Monday, March 18 at Philadelphia 76ers

    Tuesday, March 19 at Milwaukee Bucks

    Thursday, March 21 at Chicago Bulls

    Friday, March 22 at Atlanta Hawks

    Sunday, March 24 at Oklahoma City Thunder

    Wednesday, March 27 vs. Brooklyn Nets

    Friday, March 29 vs. Utah Jazz

    Saturday, March 30 at Golden State Warriors

Key March Games

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    Saturday, March 2 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

    Round 4 of Roy versus the Blazers could be the tiebreaker in the Trail Blazers/Timberwolves season series. 

    This series is likely to be a very competitive one, and the Rose Garden crowd will do everything they can to help their team to a victory over Brandon Roy's new team. 


    Tuesday, March 12 vs. Memphis Grizzlies

    Though not a division rival, the Grizzlies should be a playoff contender who haven't quite clinched a playoff spot by this point in the season. 

    Memphis' frontcourt of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are sure to keep Portland's big men occupied the entire night. Portland's wings may have to pick up the victory for their team in this one.  


    Saturday, March 30 at Golden State Warriors

    Coming at the end of a brutal stretch where Portland faces six playoff-caliber teams in seven games, the Blazers are sure to be worn out.

    Golden State, while definitely in the conversation to be on of the most improved teams this year, is not widely considered to be a threat for a playoff spot quite yet. 

    What does that mean?  You guessed it; this is classic trap game. 


    March W-L Prediction: 7-9 (32-43)

    Wins:  Bobcats, Hornets, Pistons, 76ers, Bucks, Jazz, Warriors

    Losses: Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Spurs, Grizzlies, Knicks, Bulls, Hawks, Thunder, Nets

Preview and Predictions for March

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    Best One-on-One Matchup for March

    The showdown between LaMarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol could easily be a matchup of two Western Conference All-Stars.  Both are forces of nature around the basket, but can also stretch the floor by hitting open jumpers.

    Even if the game is of no significance from a playoff standpoint, this is a matchup basketball enthusiasts are licking their chops for.  


    The Trail Blazers Have a Best-Case Scenario in March if....

    Their bench needs comes up big. 

    Everyone will be exhausted by this point in the season, making bench depth a much bigger asset later in the season than it is early.

    Portland's bench isn't known for being exceptionally deep, but it wouldn't at all be surprising if Portland clawed its way to a winning record in March on the shoulders of a few second-unit heroes.  


    The Trail Blazers Have a Worst-Case Scenario in March if...

    Worst-case scenario is there is nothing to play for.  If the Trail Blazers have already been knocked out of the playoffs by this point in the season, it will be a miserable last couple months for Trail Blazers fans. 

    With nothing to play for, motivation is low, frustration is high and the possibility of tanking is a real one. 

April Schedule

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    Monday, April 1 at Utah Jazz

    Wednesday, April 3 vs. Memphis Grizzlies

    Friday, April 5 vs. Houston Rockets

    Sunday, April 7 vs. Dallas Mavericks

    Wednesday, April 10 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

    Friday, April 12 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

    Sunday, April 14 at Denver Nuggets

    Tuesday, April 16 at Los Angeles Clippers

    Wednesday, April 17 vs. Golden State Warriors

Key April Games

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    Monday, April 1 at Utah Jazz

    This is the last meeting of these two squads and could be a playoff eliminator.

    The Blazers will need Aldridge and Batum to come up big here if they want a shot at the postseason. 


    Sunday, April 14 at Denver Nuggets

    Similarly, the last game against Denver will be on the road and could see the Trail Blazers either fighting for the last playoff spot or playing spoiler by trying to keep Denver out.

    The high altitude won't do Portland any favors as they look to finish the last division game of the season on a high note. 


    April W-L Predictions: 5-4(37-45)

    Wins:  Grizzlies, Mavericks, Thunder, Clippers, Warriors

    Losses:  Jazz, Rockets, Lakers, Nuggets

Final Predictions

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    I have predicted Portland to go 37-45, which will likely be last in a very competitive Northwest Division and well short of a playoff race.

    I feel like a lack of star power and a thin bench will seal Portland's fate fairly early, and you may see a few key pieces not named Aldridge, Batum, Leonard or Lillard be dealt at the trade deadline.

    Believe it or not, I've been wrong before, Portland fans.  Don't despair, because your beloved Trail Blazers could prove me wrong and not only make it to the playoffs, but make some significant noise. 

    That's why they play the games, right?