19-26, .422, 11th place, 3.5 games out of a playoff spot (admittedly closer than I thought they'd be). It’s not often you look at a team in 11th place in its conference and say that they are exceeding expectations, but I really think this team has done better than most expect.
What about the second half of the season? Making the playoffs is not a reasonable goal for this team; there are 8 awfully tough teams holding down those playoff spots right now and that doesn't even include Golden State whom I believe will make a nice little run in this second half. (In fact, the Golden State / LA Clippers battle for the 8th spot will be one of the season’s best remaining regular season stories). I do think, however, that playing .450 ball for the rest of the season is a solid goal to have; considering they’ve played .422 ball to this point, have played a slightly tougher-than-average schedule to this point, and are improving. 17-20 over these last 37 games would be a .459 winning percentage, and would leave the team with 36 wins on the season, also known as about about 10 more than anyone expected. Incredibly, the Blazers are doing better against the Western Conference (12-14) than they are against the East (7-12)
Can the club get 17 more wins this year? Let’s take a look. The following are what I see as “winnable” games remaining on the schedule.
Say Portland goes 9-5 in those 14 games and wins 5 other games that we don’t expect them to. There’s 14 wins. So while 17 may be tough, it’s not unrealistic to expect them to get close to that. We’ll keep an eye on this as the season goes on.