PORTLAND - The perpetually promising Portland Trail Blazers are back in the NBA playoffs despite another season of untimely injuries.
Portland claimed its playoff berth on Tuesday night with a whimper: Houston’s loss to Sacramento clinched a spot for the Blazers, who were then routed, 108-87, by the Golden State Warriors.
It is Portland’s 29th postseason in the franchise’s 41-year history, and the team’s third straight overall.
The Blazers currently sit in sixth place in the Western Conference, but the standings are still tight with four games to go. Portland, New Orleans and Memphis are all jockeying for seeding among the final playoff spots.
Last season the Blazers won 50 games and finished sixth in the conference, despite being beset by injuries.
Portland lost All-Star Brandon Roy two days before the opening game of the playoff series last year against Phoenix with a torn meniscus in his knee that required surgery – and was eliminated by the Suns.
The Blazers got off to a rough start again this year. Centers Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla were still sitting out with injuries from the season before. And forward Rudy Fernandez was homesick for Spain.
Przybilla would eventually return to the lineup, and Fernandez settled down after forming a friendship with teammate Patty Mills, but in December the Blazers got word that Oden was done for another season. This time he needed microfracture surgery on his left knee.
Then Roy had arthroscopic surgery in January and to date has missed 34 games.
Portland again leads the league in games missed because of injury with 225, according to data compiled by STATS LLC.
Still, Portland, coached by Nate McMillan, managed to stay competitive. Much of the credit goes to LaMarcus Aldridge, who is having a breakout season in Roy’s absence. He has averaged 21.9 points and 8.7 rebounds this season, with 33 double-doubles.
Aldridge has been helped by a supporting cast that includes steady veteran Andre Miller and shooter Wesley Matthews, who joined the Blazers as a free agent.
Portland also improved with the addition of forward Gerald Wallace, acquired in a trade with Charlotte just minutes before the deadline. Known as Crash, Wallace is averaging 15.1 points and 7.5 rebounds in 20 games.
The Blazers return home Friday to host the Los Angeles Lakers, before closing the season with games against Memphis and at Golden State.