Next week, Portland heads into the playoffs for the second straight year.
Last season, fans were happy just to be there after the Trail Blazers hadn’t made the playoffs for five seasons. This year, expectations are higher after Portland survived a regular season punctuated by bizarre injuries, the fragile knees of centers Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla, back-office maneuverings worthy of the Politburo, and the sobering specter of lymphoma faced by owner Paul Allen.
The playoffs will move all that drama backstage. And while nobody thinks a championship ring is within reach, Portland has won 16 of 22 games since General Manager Kevin Pritchard—whose job may depend on Portland’s postseason performance— traded for center Marcus Camby right after the February All-Star break.
So how do the Blazers look as a playoff team?