29 hours and counting until Portland tips off the season at Minnesota tomorrow night. We'll take a closer look at that game in our next column tomorrow morning, but in the meantime: how about Portland's schedule? How do they start out? Let's see.
As mentioned, the first game of the year pits two likely non-playoff participants in Portland and Minnesota. This game to me is the type of game that will determine if Portland finishes in the 9-11 range or the 12-14 range when all is said and done. Following that game, the Blazers get an off day, and then play back-to-backs, at Denver and versus Atlanta. Normally, that Hawks game would be a likely win but given that Portland has to criss-cross the country and play the next day, *and* it will be the first home game for a couple of our rookies, don't count on it being a shoe-in. The team then has three off days in a row, followed by well-spaced-out home games versus New York, Detroit, Chicago, and Golden State.
On November 20th, the team hits the road for what is tied for their longest road trip of the season, visiting New York, Memphis, Miami (back to backer), Orlando, Atlanta, Philly and Washington (back to backer).
Does that mean the season will start out slow? Let's take a look.
Likely wins: vs ATL, vs NY, @ORL, @ATL (4)
Likely losses: @MIN, @DEN, vs DET, vs CHI, @MEM, @MIA, @PHI, @WAS (8)
Could go either way: vs GS, @NY (2)
Of course, predicting wins and losses in specific games like this is a bit ridiculous, but it's worth a shot. The above theory gives us a 4-8 record with two swing games. Suppose Portland goes 1-1 in the swing games, leaving them with a start of 5-9. Thank god for those two games versus the Hawks, eh?
Game 1 preview will be posted tonight/tomorrow.