Hard Facts: It's gut-check time for the Trail Blazers

January 11, 2008 04:01 pm

Dare we call the Portland basketball team division leaders out loud?

Why not? This young and talented group has earned it.

What worries me is that the Trail Blazers organization may think the grass is greener somewhere else.

Thursday Portland head coach Nate McMillian mulled over the question of making a deal to make the team a true playoff contender. His answer appeared to opt toward looking at the future, but didn't rule out making a "blockbuster" trade.

Such a trade would reshape a young team that's finally coming together — winners of 17 out of the last 18 games.

All fans in the rejuvenated Blazer Nation should send a serious message — leave this team alone.

For once there is hope in the Rose City again. Let's stop and smell the small success the team already has.

No one pegged this team to be 22-13 right now.

Let's hope the organization doesn't get greedy and sell out the obvious talent they have for a piece that may not fit this puzzle.

This team went 32-50 a season ago. With 47 games left in the regular season, they're 10 games away from last year's win total.

Put things in perspective — this is a great season.

Would a playoff appearance be nice this year? Of course it would. This group may be able to do it with what they have.

Sure, it probably won't be as the number four seed — where they're at right now — out of the Western Conference. But a fifth through seventh seed is certainly possible.

Long term this team can be something special if they're left alone to learn.

But remember this run isn't going to last forever.



On the court


The Trail Blazers begin a seven-game road trip starting Sunday.

Six of those games will be against teams at .500 or above.

Wednesday presents the biggest test — the Celtics.

Boston is 29-4 and leading the Eastern Conference.

It will be the biggest game against the opposing conference since a Nov. 13 win against Detroit in the Rose Garden.

Another important date is Jan. 23, when Portland travels to New Orleans.

A test against another top conference opponent. The Hornets are 23-12 and behind San Antonio and Dallas in the Southwest Conference.

The Blazers are 2-1 against New Orleans, with the lone loss on the road.

Portland is currently 5-3 against opponents on its scheduled road trip. Only one of those losses came on the road.

No matter what, we'll see how tough this group is. Let's just hope the pieces don't get lost in a playoff shuffle.



Paul Harder is sports writer for The Observer. Reach him by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .