Tonight the Portland Trailblazers officially start the season with a home game against the Houston Rockets, the team they lost to in the playoffs last year. The home team should give the Rose Garden faithful a good show, despite Nicolas Batum’s absence – it pays to have a deep bench! The Rockets, sans Yao Ming and Ron Artest, are likely to be a shadow of their last year playoff self.
I have a confession to make. Despite being a season ticket holder, I have not attended or watched a single preseason game this year. I have no idea what the new guys (other than Juwan Howard and Andre Miller) even look like.
But the tradition here is to make a prediction as to the team’s success in the upcoming season. This year I have little on which to base my prediction, except for my knowledge of last year’s team and the two aforementioned veterans, that Martell is back, Batum is no longer a rookie, and Oden is looking strong and confident.
Two years ago, I was spot on at 41-41. Last year I predicted 49 wins, five short of their eventual accomplishment. At the time my prediction seemed optimistic, as most prognosticators predicted the Blazers would win a handful more games than the season before. Batum, Rudy Fernandez, and really even Greg Oden, as you may recall, were relatively unknown commodities. As the season progressed I saw the error of my conservative guessing ways, and offered my mea culpa, and a scolding to pessimists, in a blog post: Never underestimate the Trail Blazers.
So I’ve learned my lesson. I’m not going to underestimate this team. My brother Steve has predicted an optimistic 59 wins. I’m going to go even further out on a limb: My prediction is 63 wins and 19 losses. Yup, they’ll tie the best record ever for the Trailblazers franchise, set by the 1990-91 team.