Blazers 2021 Schedule: Top Games, Updated Championship Odds and PredictionsFebruary 24, 2021
The Portland Trail Blazers are well-positioned to make the NBA playoffs for the eighth straight year after a strong first half that recently included an 8-1 stretch, helping the team put together an 18-13 record to this point.
Portland has excelled despite missing shooting guard CJ McCollum, who was averaging a career-high 26.7 points per game before he suffered a small fracture in his left foot Jan. 16 versus the Atlanta Hawks. McCollum has played just 13 games.
Portland has also been without center Jusuf Nurkic (9.8 points, 7.7 rebounds) for all but 12 games as he recovers from a fractured right wrist.
The Blazers have kept humming, though, with superstar point guard Damian Lillard averaging 29.6 points per game. Gary Trent Jr. (15.3 PPG) and Carmelo Anthony (13.4 PPG) have stepped up to help the scoring load, and Enes Kanter (11.7 PPG, 11.4 RPG) has been productive in the paint.
The Blazers' efforts have propelled them into playoff position, and they should only get stronger down the stretch whenever McCollum and Nurkic return.
Here's a look at the team's second-half schedule details, latest championship odds, notable games and predictions for how the rest of the regular season will shake out.
2020-21 Portland Schedule Details
Second-Half Opener: vs. Phoenix Suns, March 11, at 10 p.m. ET
Championship Odds (FanDuel): +6500
Second-Half Schedule: NBA.com
Los Angeles Lakers (at home on May 7)
A game against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the defending NBA champions is a top matchup for any team, but the stakes are a bit different for Portland.
First, the Blazers lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five first-round games in last year's playoffs despite decisively winning Game 1 of the series.
Second, the Lakers may want some of their own revenge after falling 115-107 to Portland four games into the season. Trent's 28 points off the bench (thanks in part to seven three-pointers) helped Portland outscore L.A. by nine in the final quarter on the road.
Lakers vs. Blazers also has a chance to be a potential playoff preview, with a matchup certainly possible in the first or second round.
Phoenix Suns (at home on March 11, at Phoenix on May 13)
The Utah Jazz have set themselves apart from the rest of the Western Conference, to the point where it's hard envisioning any other West team having a shot at obtaining home-court advantage throughout the conference playoffs.
However, there are a few races still worth watching, most notably for a top-four seed and home-court advantage through the first round.
The Phoenix Suns appear to be one of Portland's biggest competitors for that spot. They caught fire in February, winning 12 of their past 14 games beginning with a victory over the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 28. Therefore, a Phoenix vs. Portland matchup could have massive playoff implications.
In addition, a matchup between Lillard and Chris Paul is one of the best possible point guard showdowns in today's game. If McCollum is back, his head-to-head battle with shooting guard Devin Booker would be one to watch as well.
Furthermore, a Phoenix vs. Portland showdown in the first round of the playoffs is certainly possible, with the two teams easily capable of assuming the fourth and fifth seeds (in some order).
Portland barely edged Phoenix for a spot in last year's play-in tournament. We'll see if Phoenix returns the favor for home-court advantage in the first round.
As noted above, the path to the No. 4 seed is up for grabs.
The issue is that the next few tiers of teams after the top three in the West are so bunched together that there are numerous franchises who could realistically fall anywhere from the top four to out of the top 10 entirely.
The Blazers find themselves near the top end of that group, and they've done that without the services of two of their three best players in McCollum and Nurkic.
Ultimately, the Blazers are set to go on a second-half roll upon their returns. Even if they take a while to come back, Portland's depth has shone this season, putting Lillard in a position where he doesn't have to carry a massive offensive burden on a nightly basis.
In that sense, look for Portland to be the team to grab that final top-four spot after a strong second half.
Final Record Prediction: 46-26 (No. 4 seed in Western Conference)
For all the latest betting information and reaction, check out B/R Betting.
Must be 21+ and present in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, West Virginia, Colorado, or Tennessee. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. See sportsbook.fanduel.com for details.