The Portland Trail Blazers head in to Sunday's Game 1 against the Houston Rockets having not won a playoff series since 1999-00. Portland's 13-year run without winning a series is the longest active drought in the NBA, per ESPN Stats & Info.
The unfortunate streak started in 2000-01, when a talented, seventh-seeded Blazers team featuring forward Rasheed Wallace and guard Damon Stoudamire drew a difficult first-round matchup against the powerhouse Los Angeles Lakers.
That Lakers squad slept-walked through the regular season, finishing with an excellent 56-26 record that still understated the team's actual talent level. With the San Antonio Spurs winning 58 games to take the No. 1 seed, the Blazers were stuck playing the NBA's best team, despite winning 50 games. The Shaq-led Lakers swept Portland in three games.
It was more of the same the following season, as the Blazers won 49 games to capture the No. 6 seed, only to match up against the third-seeded Lakers in the first round. The result was another sweep by the Lakers, who would go on to win a third consecutive championship.
Portland almost got over the hump in 2002-03, but the 50-win Blazers were defeated in seven games by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. After coming oh so close to a series win, the Blazers would miss the playoffs in each of the next five seasons from 2003-04 to 2007-08.
In 2008-09, a surprising Portland team led by shooting guard Brandon Roy won 54 games to capture the Western Conference's No. 4 seed, then bowed out in six games to the Houston Rockets in the first round. Despite the disappointment, the future in Portland looked tremendously bright with Roy leading the way.
Unfortunately for the Blazers faithful, the team was knocked out in the first round in each of the next two seasons (2009-10 and 2010-11) as Roy's knees began to deteriorate.
Then, coming off a 48-win season in 2010-11, everything fell apart in 2011-12, with Roy never to be the same and the Blazers going 28-38 in a lockout-shortened campaign.
With a lengthy rebuilding process potentially looming, the Blazers nailed the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, selecting guard Damian Lillard out of Weber State.
Lillard's rookie season ended with a poor 33-49 record, but the young point guard's spectacular play led to hopes for a speedy turnaround.
Even the most optimistic of Portland fans didn't see what was coming next, as the Blazers jumped out to a 31-9 start this season and ultimately finished 54-28, good for the No. 5 seed in a stacked Western Conference.
Now, coming off an excellent season, the Blazers find themselves in a familiar position, opening the first round on the road against a star-studded team.