Trail Mix: Playoff scenarios, jerseys sales, defense

(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Thank goodness we are almost to the end of the regular season. My brain is hurting with all these playoff scenarios. It’s still possible that the Blazers can play any of the teams that are currently in the 2-6 range in the first round.

With the Grizzlies loss last night, their chances of getting the two seed are done. There are three teams with 55 wins and all three of those teams could still get the No. 2 seed if scenarios break right.

If the Spurs win against the Pelicans, they will cement themselves as the No.2 seed, avoiding the Warriors until the conference finals. If the Spurs lose, all hell breaks loose as documented by CBSSports’ Matt Moore, who has blessed us with a handy chart handling all the scenarios. Thank you based ParoxiGod.

If every team wins their final game of the season, the match-ups stay as they are with the Blazers going back to Houston to tango with James Harden.

According to’s Ben Alamar, here are the Blazers’ most likely opponents by percentage:

41.9% Grizzlies

30.5% Rockets

20.2% Clippers

7.4% Spurs

Games to watch: 

Clippers at Suns in the regular season finale for both, Tuesday at 7:30 on TNT: If the Clippers win this game, it eliminates the possibility of the Blazers playing them in the first round. A Clippers win would mean they would finish no lower than 3rd in the West. A loss opens the door for the Rockets to finish 3rd.

Pelicans at Spurs, 5PM Wednesday on NBA League Pass: A Pelicans win would open the door for a nightmare scenarios for Blazers fans. And Warriors fans for that matter because nothing would be worse for a historically great season than facing the Spurs in the second round. And with all due respect to the Blazers, San Antonio would walk through them in no more than five games.

Jazz at Rockets, 5PM Wednesday on NBA League Pass: If the Rockets win, they will finish no lower than the fifth seed. The Clippers game on Tuesday and the Spurs game will most likely decide their fate. A loss to the Jazz would would open up the possibility of dropping to the sixth seed.

Pacers at Grizzlies, 6:30 PM Wednesday on ESPN: The late tip-off for this game gives the Grizzlies a little bit of an advantage. They will know by halftime of their game where they will or can go. The Pacers are a half-game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets for the 8th and final playoff seed in the East. And now with the injuries to the Hawks (Sefolosha and Millsap), who knows how a series against them will go. The Pacers will be going all out to win this game. Indiana needs to win Tuesday against the Wizards, who for the Randy Wittman-est of reasons, are not going to rest their best players. But even if they win tonight, Brooklyn holds a tiebreaker over them and the Nets have a cupcake at home against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. If the Spurs and Clippers hold serve but Houston is upset by the Jazz at home, a Grizzlies win would mean they are Portland’s opponent.

So, Blazers fans, if you don’t want to play the Spurs, become a Spurs fan for the next 48 hours and hope the Brow doesn’t unleash his wrath upon the champs.

The NBA released their annual tally of the league’s most popular jerseys and teams in terms of merchandise sales on Tuesday morning. The Portland Trail Blazers did not crack the top-10 in team merchandise sales in the 2015 season.

But Damian Lillard made the top-15 once again, clocking in at 11th in the league in jersey sales. He was 11th in jersey sales when the NBA last released the sale numbers back in January.

With Lillard basically becoming the face of all of Adidas’ ad campaigns over the past year, it should be no surprise that he is on this list.

I’ve been watching some film and looking at numbers in an attempt to better understand Portland’s defensive struggles in the 2nd half of the season. At first I thought that switching might be burning them because the Jazz and Thunder have succeeded to beat the Blazers up on the defensive boards. But the numbers on the defensive glass don’t bear that out for the Blazers post-All-Star.

They’re third in the league in defensive rebounding.  Basketball is a game and in games, luck is always involved. Seth Partnow of the wonderful site Nylon Calculus tweeted out an insane statistic over the weekend that Portland’s opponents have hit on 40 percent of their contested 3-pointers.

Although I don’t have SportVU data, according to, the Portland’s opponents shot 32 percent from deep pre-All-Star. That was the second-lowest mark in the league behind Houston. Since the break, Portland’s opponents have shot 37.3 percent from 3, the third-worst in the league since that time.

As much as strategy and effort are looked at as a scapegoat, Partnow’s analysis reminds that luck still plays a major factor. Portland was the beneficiary of some great luck from opposing shooters in the first half of the season.  Their reversal in luck also applies to the devastating injuries Portland has suffered in the second half of the season, too.

It’s a cold truth of the NBA: deserve ain’t got nothing to do with it.



Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

Scroll to top