A long season for the Portland Trail Blazers will come to an end Sunday night.
The Blazers will host the Utah Jazz and then enter the offseason after missing the playoffs for the first time since Damian Lillard’s rookie season.
They will return home after a five-game road trip and will have played 14 of their last 20 games on the road. Back home to play once more in front of the home fans who had to suffer a series of catastrophic defeats, with most of the team’s best players out injured and the team obviously chasing a high draft pick.
It has been accomplished. The Blazers will finish the season with the sixth-worst record in the NBA, no matter what happens on Sunday. So the question is, can the Blazers at least make a solid effort at home before heading into the offseason?
Blazers coach Chauncey Billups hopes so.
“I just want us to fight,” Billups said after the team’s 128-78 loss Friday night at Dallas.
That night, the Blazers had little to no fighting, which bothered Billups.
“To me, that’s unacceptable,” Billups said.
And unusual. During all the defeats this young formation endured, at the very least – almost every night – the team played hard. That wasn’t always the case against the Mavericks.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to play in this league and get minutes in this league and no matter what happens in the game, you have to keep fighting,” Billups said.
Sunday will be an opportunity for the team to make such an effort.
“We’re going to play hard,” Billups said. “Who knows what’s going to happen, but we’re ending on a high by just competing.”
Then it’s the offseason that the Blazers will be looking to get healthy, add a few key pieces, and start a fresh streak of playoff appearances next season.
“We’ve got a ton to look forward to,” Billups said. “We understood what we were doing when we made the exchanges, when we made the gestures to take a step back during the season. So, I understand where we are, I understand what’s going on and I’m really excited about it. Obviously we have another game to play on Sunday and then we can address all these things… I feel good where we are.
As for the Jazz (48-33), they will be looking to end this game early. A win secures the fifth seed in the NBA playoffs. A loss, and Denver (48-33) would edge them out with a win over the LA Lakers.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS VS. UTAH JAZZ
What: Trail Blazers (27-54) at Jazz (48-33), 6:30 p.m., Sunday.
Where: Moda Center.
Radio: Rip City Radio (KPOJ 620 AM).
TV channel: Root Sports (in Portland: Comcast 734/34; DirecTV 687).
Watch the game live online: You can watch this match live for FREE with fuboTV (free try). You can also get this game at DirecTV streamsThe “CHOICE” package of (promotional offers), if you no longer have fuboTV trials, or if you simply prefer this platform and its tariff plans. If you already have a cable or satellite provider that broadcasts Root Sports and want to watch online, you can watch this match live on Root Sports Live.
Jackets: Greg Brown III (left ankle; sprain) is probable. Keljin Blevins (non-COVID disease), CJ Elleby (non-COVID disease) and Drew Eubanks (right wrist; sprain) are debatable. Eric Bledsoe (left Achilles; tendinopathy), Kris Dunn (right ankle; sprain), Josh Hart (left knee; patellar tendinopathy), Joe Ingles (left knee recovery), Damien Lillard (central muscle recovery), Nassir Petit (left shoulder recovery), Jusuf Nurkic (left foot; plantar fasciitis), Anfernee Simons (left knee; patellar tendinopathy), Trendon Watford (left knee; bone contusion) and Justise Winslow (inflammation of the left calf) came out.
Jazz: Udoka Azubuike (right ankle; surgery) and Trent Forrest (middle of the left foot; sprain) came out.
An off-season filled with intrigue.
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