Ranking the Top 5 Portland Trail Blazers Games to Watch in April

Michael DulkaContributor IMarch 31, 2013

Ranking the Top 5 Portland Trail Blazers Games to Watch in April

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    Heading into April, the Portland Trail Blazers' top games to watch are mostly a chance for the team to play spoiler and build some momentum for next season. Currently two games out of the 10th seed, the Blazers' playoff chances are slim to none. 

    The Blazers play nine games in April to close out the regular season. Every team they play down the stretch is currently in the hunt or playoff-bound in the Western Conference. 

    Here is a look at the Blazers' top five games to watch during the month, ending with the best game. 

5. April 7: vs. Dallas Mavericks

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    Of the Blazers' incredibly challenging last few weeks of the season, their matchup with the Dallas Mavericks seems to be one of the most winnable game. The Mavericks are streaking, but being at the Rose Garden should help keep the Blazers in the contest. 

    The Mavericks currently lead the season serious 2-1 after beating the Blazers in November and February. The Blazers got their singular win against the Mavericks in their last game of January as they pulled out a narrow 106-104 win. 

    The big challenge for the Blazers will be slowing down Dirk Nowitzki, especially if LaMarcus Aldridge's injury proves to be a bigger issue. It will put all the pressure on Nicolas Batum, who has proven up to the challenge before.  

4. April 12: vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    This is likely the toughest game remaining on the schedule, narrowly edging out the game in Denver two days later. While both teams are top quality, the Thunder are currently on a different level with the play of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. 

    While the Blazers don't have much to play for down the stretch, this is a good chance to measure up against the top team in the division. 

    The matchup of Damian Lillard and Westbrook will be exciting to watch. While Westbrook is top five at the point guard position, Lillard is certainly ascending up the ranks. Seeing the two go head-to-head in the Northwest Division over the upcoming years will be a treat. 

3. April 14: at Denver Nuggets

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    If the Blazers can keep this game close, this has potential to be the best game in April. The Denver Nuggets' style of play is incredibly attractive on its own, and a strong performance by the Blazers could put this one over the top. 

    The concern is playing in Denver, against a more talented team playing for postseason positioning. If the Blazers aren't careful, this is the type of game that could get out of hand in a hurry. 

    As the Blazers start to shape their future around Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge, the Nuggets are a team to emulate. The Nuggets' balanced attack and strong bench make them a challenge for any team on any night. 

2. April 10: vs. Los Angeles Lakers

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    While the rivalry has mostly lost its luster, Blazers fans have to embrace the opportunity to hurt the Los Angeles Lakers' playoff chances. In a furious fight with the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks, the Lakers are clinging to the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. 

    A Blazers' victory would result in a split in the season series. The team beat the Lakers 116-106 to start the season but lost both matchups since the opener, including a painful 111-107 loss on Feb. 22. In a tight game, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash exposed the Blazers' inexperience as they closed out the game. 

    Without Metta World Peace, the Lakers will have to figure out how to defend Nicolas Batum. The lengthy small forward should have his way against the defensively challenged Lakers. If the Lakers opt to slide Bryant into the small forward role, Batum will have opportunities to make the Lakers pay. 

1. April 17: vs. Golden State Warriors

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    While the Blazers haven't yet been eliminated from playoff contention, they certainly will be when they host the Golden State Warriors in the season finale. The final game of the year acts as a good measuring stick for the young squad. It would be nice to see them close out with a win against a playoff-bound team. 

    It will certainly be a challenge for the Trail Blazers defense. The Warriors are currently ranked ninth in scoring with 100.5 points per game. They also rebound the basketball incredibly well, ranked second in the league with 44.8 boards per game. 

    While this should be a fun game to watch, it tops the list because it's the last chance to watch the Blazers play until next fall. With a young, talented core, there should be excitement heading into next season.