It’s been a long time since the Portland Trail Blazers haven’t been in the postseason.
Portland will try to keep its slim playoff chances alive when they host the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night. The Blazers have made 21 straight playoff appearances, but trail Utah and Denver for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference with two games remaining. Another loss or win by either the Jazz or Nuggets would eliminate Portland, which would lose tiebreakers to both teams.
The Trail Blazers failed to help themselves on Saturday, losing 110-100 in overtime to the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center.
Portland’s final two games are far from easy. The Blazers host the defending champion Spurs before finishing at home against the Los Angeles Lakers.
San Antonio is tied with Sacramento for second place in the Western Conference, one game behind Midwest Division rival Minnesota and a game ahead of the Lakers with two games left in the regular season.
“We’re going to finish the season on a high note and we’re trying to play as well as possible going into the playoffs,” said Tim Duncan. “You don’t want to lose one of these last two games and have some doubts in your mind, so we want to stay as confident as we are now.”
Duncan scored 18 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Spurs over the Los Angeles Clippers 88-79 Sunday for their season-high ninth straight victory.
San Antonio plays at Portland Monday before finishing at home against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.
STANDINGS (through April 10): Spurs - 2nd place, 1 GB, Midwest Division. Trail Blazers - 3rd place, 15 GB, Pacific Division.
PROBABLE STARTERS: Spurs - F Bruce Bowen, F Duncan, C Rasho Nesterovic, G Tony Parker, G Hedo Turkoglu. Trail Blazers - F Darius Miles, F Zach Randolph, C Theo Ratliff, G Derek Anderson, G Damon Stoudamire.
TEAM LEADERS: Spurs - Duncan, 22.3 ppg and 12.4 rpg; Parker, 5.5 apg. Trail Blazers - Randolph, 20.2 ppg and 10.4 rpg; Stoudamire, 6.0 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Spurs, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: April 9; Spurs, 84-74. At San Antonio, Ginobili came off the bench to score 21 points and Duncan added 21 to lead the Spurs. Randolph scored 21 points to pace Portland.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Spurs - 22-17 on the road; Trail Blazers - 25-14 at home.