Even though a lot of Trail Blazer fans are already assuming Portland will be meeting the Houston Rockets in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, it's not a done deal by any means.
And odds are, it's going to come down to one game -- that Sunday evening Moda Center matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Blazers. Golden State has just one more loss than Portland and with a win Sunday, would own the tiebreaker between the teams. But with a win, Portland would wrap up the fifth seed and could begin to pack its bags for the weekend trip to Houston. Lose, though, and Golden State would be in the driver's seat for that seed, leaving the Blazers with a first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers.
This, of course, is assuming that both teams win the handful of games they're supposed to win the rest of the season.
The Warriors have been no easy task for Portland this season. They present some of the same problems the Phoenix Suns do, including fast-paced offense, spread-the-court three-point shooting along with rugged inside play. Let's take a look at the three previous games between these teams:
November 24, 2013. Portland 113, Golden State 101 -- One of the most memorable games of the season for Portland because of an on-court scuffle many credited with pulling this team even closer together during a sensational early season run. After the third-quarter melee, Portland -- playing without Wesley Matthews, who was ejected -- outscored the Warriors 42-20 the rest of the way. LaMarcus Aldridge had 31 points and 20 rebounds for the Trail Blazers.
January 27, 2014. Golden State 103, Portland 88 -- The Trail Blazers shot just 33.7 percent from the field in this game and were blown out in the second half. Steph Curry had 38 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. The Warriors held Aldridge to just 10 points.
March 16, 2014. Golden State 113, Portland 112 -- Portland held Curry scoreless for the first 20 minutes and 39 seconds -- but then watched in awe as he scored 37 points over the final 27 minutes and 21 seconds. But it was Klay Thompson's three-point field goal with 11.1 seconds remaining that proved to be the winning basket. Nic Batum, who had an outstanding game, missed a foul shot with 5.8 seconds to go that would have tied it. Aldridge did not play due to injury.
The Warriors have a soft schedule other than the Portland game, having contests left on the road vs. Denver and the Lakers and home games vs. the Nuggets and Minnesota. The Trail Blazers have one other difficult game aside from Golden State -- a season-ending home bout with the Clippers next week. However, Los Angeles could be in a position to rest several players for that game and may not be motivated to win.
I believe the seeding situation -- and make no mistake most teams would prefer to play banged-up Houston much more than the star-studded Clippers -- will be decided Sunday night in the Moda Center.