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With the Trail Blazers facing potential playoff death tomorrow night in Game 5 against Houston, the pundits' eulogies are starting to roll in as to why the Blazers are first-round losers.

In no particular order, it's

_Greg Oden's fault. No, not entirely. But even conceding some of the refs' whistles are ticky-tack, Oden's whole body language for most of this series has been "Take me out, Coach." He has been no help.

_The fact that the Blazers aren't "built for the playoffs." Painfully true from the standpoint that they are nowhere near rugged enough.

_Or coach Nate McMillan is in over his head. Unless you hold him responsible for the Blazers not being tough enough — getting outworked in the fourth quarter for rebounds last night being the latest example — that's an unfair knock.

Bottom line is the Blazers entered this season with most fans saying just making the playoffs would be a reasonable step forward on the learning curve. Now that the Blazers are there, of course, fans' expectations have grown to the point that they want the playoff lessons absorbed NOW. Since the Blazers have dug their own hole by falling behind Houston 3-1, the chance to show they've learned their lessons quickly begins tomorrow night.