At the beginning of the year, many people considered the Portland Trail Blazers a dark horse to win the NBA Finals. They had a superstar in Brandon Roy, a front court loaded with star potential in Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge, and an excellent supporting cast. But as usual, the Blazers' promise quickly evaporated due to devastating injuries—Greg Oden went out for the season before it even began, and Brandon Roy shocked American basketball fans by saying that his knees could be permanently screwed up, and that his career would likely never be the same. This went along with the fact that he'd be out for most of the season.
The Trail Blazers had lost their two biggest hopes, but they still had several good young players, an enthusiastic fan base, and an excellent coach. They were no longer championship contenders, but they were still playoff hopefuls. What they needed was somebody to step up and take control, because despite their remaining assets, the team quickly slipped below .500. And LaMarcus Aldridge decided to be that guy.
With two games left in the season, Aldridge is averaging 22 points per game, with eight rebounds, and both a steal and a block to go along with two assists. These stats were even higher a couple of months ago, before the addition of all-star Gerald Wallace. He has probably earned this year's honors as the biggest all-star snub. Some people think he even deserves MVP votes, because the award isn't just about having the best stats. It's about how much you contribute to the team, and the way he carried his team this season was extraordinary.
Now that the team has obtained some star status, the stellar group of role players is doing its jobs, and it looks like the team has earned itself the 6th seed in the playoffs. The team is better and healthier than it has been all season, so many people have set high postseason expectations for the Portland Trail Blazers. In no particular order, here are ten reasons that the Blazers have a chance to live up to these expectations.