Blazers have a target to shoot for

Remainder of NBA regular season will be quick affair
By Cliff Pfenning,
AP photo

The Portland Trail Blazers have numerous question marks about their roster for the next month, but their schedule is at least certain - the 2019-20 season will close out with eight games beginning July 31.

Portland sits in ninth place in the Western Conference, but is at least in contention for eighth place and the league playoffs.

All games will be played in Orlando, Fla., despite the recent uptick in positive tests for COVID-19, which halted the season March 11.

Of the league's 30 teams, 22 will participate in the remainder of the schedule. The teams with no chance of qualifying for the playoffs were left off the schedule. Five games will be played per day at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World, with no fans in attendance. Only teams and media will be allowed in the arena.

The Blazers (29-37) were 3.5 games behind Memphis (32-33) in the race for eighth place when the season stopped. New Orleans, Sacramento and San Antonio were also within four games of the Grizzlies. 

There is a potential of a play-in tournament for the No. 8 seed in each conference as well, which would be triggered by the No. 9 team finishing within four games of the No. 8 seed.

All playoff series will still be best-of-seven, but the league plans to condense the postseason as much as possible by moving up start dates for each round based on when the previous one ends.

The Finals will also be shortened down to games every other day, which means it will take less than two weeks—Game 7 would take place no later than October 12—to determine a champion after the conference finals wrap up.