Having won eight straight in Portland against the Lakers, and looking forward to a likely first round matchup with a wounded Spurs team that they had just defeated in San Antonio, Portland fans were beginning to get too big for their britches.
The Playoff Gods appear to have taken note, coming through with a last-minute change that puts Portland back in its place: On the final day of the regular season, a subtle but significant change in the standings now pits Portland against Houston.
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Within moments of the creation of this blog, Portland Trailblazer fans arrived on the scene, trumpeting their team's success against ours in the Rose Garden and warning Lakers fans not to presume that their team was headed to the Finals.
Lakers fans, they insisted, were acting too big for their britches, making assumptions they shouldn't have by looking forward to the Finals. Portland, they were here to announce, would be their second round foe, and many of these fans -- BEdgers, they call themselves -- seemed quite confident that the Blazers could handle the Lakers in Round 2.
With this last second twist delivered by Bracketeus, god of playoff seeding, it seems these BEdgers have been guilty of not taking their own advice. Assuming they would beat a weakened Spurs team and taking for granted their team's advancement to the second round looks now to have been overly presumptive, as they now face a much tougher foe and are in no way guaranteed to make it past Round 1.
The Houston Rockets are not the San Antonio Spurs. They are not dangerously close to being "too old," and the loss of their dynamic wingman seems almost to have helped them, rather than hurt them. They are capable of playing stifling defense, have a whole string of very key victories against very tough teams to their credit, and at the start of the season, were selected by many prominent analysts as the favorites not only to win the Western Conference, but to bring home the championship.
Most significantly, they've had no touble beating the Blazers this season.
Houston won the 3-game season series with Portland this year, winning two out of three games. Their only loss to Portland came back in November, and Portland needed overtime and a miraculous 31-foot buzzer beater from Brandon Roy to squeak out a win.
Not exactly the type of record that assures a second round appearance.
I expect this series to be a good one, hard fought and going to at least six games, perhaps seven. In the end, I'm predicting a Houston victory. Portland is simply too inexperienced, and Houston is just too tough, for the Blazers to force the Rockets into a humbling first-round exit -- Rose Garden or not.
In the meantime, BEdgers might want to take some of their own advice, and focus on their more immediate opponents before looking ahead to a far-from-certain second round matchup with the Lakers.