Since the beginning of this 2009/2010 season, after perusing the schedule and prognosticating beyond a reasonable amount, my eye always came to the games just before Christmas. Specifically, our next four-game road trip but now, given the Suns resurgence, it expands to our next seven games.
There is not a more pivotal stretch of games this season as far as I'm concerned.
The biggest issue that I see, is potentially losing six of the next seven games, putting Portland's record at 15-17 on Christmas night. That sounds pretty dismal, but this is how it might happen if something doesn't change.
The first game of this seven game stretch is the Sacramento Kings. Certainly this is the game that Portland should win. The Kings are 1-9 on the road, and have lost their last four games. But Portland can't sleep on the young Kings, they are scrappy, playing without fear and they'll be motivated to add to Portland's recent struggles.
The Phoenix game on Thursday is the first major test. First of all, Portland never seems to have success defending the seven-seconds-or-less offense. We don't get back on defense in transition and it usually ends up being a snowball effect of pathetic play. In fact, the Blazers have only won three of the last 15 games against Phoenix. Even though half of those losses are on the road, the home record still isn't pretty. It took Brandon Roy scoring 52 points last year just to narrowly defeat the Suns, and this year, the team is even better minus Shaq.
The four game road trip is where things could get brutal. Four games in five nights, all against playoff caliber teams. Orlando, Miami, Dallas and San Antonio have a combined home record of 31-16. The most winnable game comes against Miami on Sunday, however, it immediately follows the Saturday game against Orlando.
Two days later Portland does the Texas two-step against Dallas and San Antonio, based on past success(or lack thereof) and this year's struggles, I don't see how we can possibly win a game in Texas.
Then of course, following the brutal road trip, Portland limps home to take on division rival Denver on Christmas day. The Nuggets have been erratic at times this year, but they always get up for a game against Portland. Unless there is a major morale and chemistry change over the next week and a half, the Blazers will lose to Denver too.
In my opinion, the Blazers could easily lose six of their next seven games. It's a tough stretch, one that would be difficult even if the season were going well.
My question is, what do you think? Will the Blazers bust out of their slump, or will Portland fans be in even more of a panic when Christmas is over?