2013 Portland Trailblazers schedule: Emphasis is on playoff competition

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Spo

The Portland Trail Blazers are fighting several other Western Conference teams for a spot in the postseason, and those games define the 2013-14 schedule.

The Western Conference playoff picture seems mostly painted before the season even starts, and the Portland Trail Blazers hope to be part of the final product. There aren't many spots open for the postseason in the top of the bracket, but Portland should be in contention for one of the final two spots along with teams like the Pelicans, Timberwolves, Nuggets and Lakers.

The Blazers have to do well in 2013-14 against teams that will be battling them for those final tickets. It's something that might even determine the future of star forward LaMarcus Aldridge in the City of Roses.

Five games to watch

Dec. 28 vs. Heat -- The Blazers will find their former No. 1 overall pick, Greg Oden, on the Heat's bench and have a refreshed memory of what could've been. Miami took a risk on Oden and, at least in the preseason, he seems reasonably confident about coming back from the multiple knee surgeries that have crippled his career thus far.

Jan. 15 vs. Cavaliers -- Point guard Damian Lillard, the NBA's 2013 Rookie of the Year, faces off against Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving, the 2012 winner of that honor. Such matchups will give Lillard a shot at burnishing his reputation as one of the league's best young floor generals.

Jan. 23 vs. Nuggets -- The game will air on TNT and feature two teams that will be battling for playoff spots in the Western Conference. Six teams -- San Antonio, Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, Memphis, and the Los Angeles Clippers -- seem all but guaranteed to make the postseason. That means capable teams like Portland, Dallas, Denver, Minnesota, New Orleans and the Lakers will be fighting for two spots.

Feb. 23 vs. Minnesota -- Like Portland, Minnesota has a good deal of talent around its two best players at point guard and power forward. Both teams are likewise trying to turn that potential into a higher win total. The individual battles include Ricky Rubio against Lillard and Kevin Love against Aldridge.

April 1 at Lakers -- Another TNT matchup late in the season could be especially important if the Lakers and Blazers are fighting for playoff positioning. In all likelihood, at least one of the teams will still be clawing its way to a postseason spot.

Tough tests

The Blazers will play a brutal mid-January stretch that begins with a Texas tour through San Antonio, Dallas and then Houston. From there, Portland heads to Oklahoma City and then plays Denver, Minnesota, Golden State and Memphis consecutively.

From Feb. 5 through Feb. 19, the Blazers play the Knicks, Pacers, Timberwolves, Thunder and Clippers. And one of their five-game road trips in mid-March includes stiff competition against Dallas, Houston, Memphis, San Antonio and New Orleans.

Easiest stretches

Five games into the season, Portland has a reasonable schedule. It plays Sacramento twice and then plays Detroit, Phoenix, Boston and Toronto.

Additionally, the first two weeks of January should give the Blazers a chance to find some confidence, with games against the Bobcats, 76ers, Kings, Magic, Celtics and Cavaliers.

Important schedule facts

Back-to-backs: 19

Season opener: Oct. 30 at Phoenix

Home opener: Nov. 2 vs. Spurs

Longest road trip: Five games (March 7-14, March 22-28)

Longest homestand: Four games (Dec. 2-7, Feb. 26-March 5)

2013-14 schedule

OCTOBER
@ Phoenix Wednesday, October 30 2013 10:00 PM EDT coverage
NOVEMBER
@ Denver Friday, November 01 2013 9:00 PM EDT coverage
San Antonio Saturday, November 02 2013 10:00 PM EDT coverage
Houston Tuesday, November 05 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
Sacramento Friday, November 08 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Sacramento Saturday, November 09 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
Detroit Monday, November 11 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
Phoenix Wednesday, November 13 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Boston Friday, November 15 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Toronto Sunday, November 17 2013 1:00 PM EST coverage
@ Brooklyn Monday, November 18 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Milwaukee Wednesday, November 20 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Chicago Friday, November 22 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Golden State Saturday, November 23 2013 10:30 PM EST coverage
New York Monday, November 25 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Phoenix Wednesday, November 27 2013 9:00 PM EST coverage
DECEMBER
@ Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, December 01 2013 9:30 PM EST coverage
Indiana Monday, December 02 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
Oklahoma City Wednesday, December 04 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
Utah Friday, December 06 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
Dallas Saturday, December 07 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Utah Monday, December 09 2013 9:00 PM EST coverage
Houston Thursday, December 12 2013 10:30 PM EST coverage
@ Philadelphia Saturday, December 14 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Detroit Sunday, December 15 2013 6:00 PM EST coverage
@ Cleveland Tuesday, December 17 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Minnesota Wednesday, December 18 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
New Orleans Saturday, December 21 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Clippers Thursday, December 26 2013 10:30 PM EST coverage
Miami Saturday, December 28 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ New Orleans Monday, December 30 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Oklahoma City Tuesday, December 31 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
JANUARY
Charlotte Thursday, January 02 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
Philadelphia Saturday, January 04 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Sacramento Tuesday, January 07 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
Orlando Wednesday, January 08 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
Boston Saturday, January 11 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
Cleveland Wednesday, January 15 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ San Antonio Friday, January 17 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Dallas Saturday, January 18 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Houston Monday, January 20 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Oklahoma City Tuesday, January 21 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Denver Thursday, January 23 2014 10:30 PM EST coverage
Minnesota Saturday, January 25 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Golden State Sunday, January 26 2014 9:00 PM EST coverage
Memphis Tuesday, January 28 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
FEBRUARY
Toronto Saturday, February 01 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Washington Monday, February 03 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ New York Wednesday, February 05 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Indiana Friday, February 07 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Minnesota Saturday, February 08 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Oklahoma City Tuesday, February 11 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday, February 12 2014 10:30 PM EST coverage
San Antonio Wednesday, February 19 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
Utah Friday, February 21 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
Minnesota Sunday, February 23 2014 9:00 PM EST coverage
@ Denver Tuesday, February 25 2014 9:00 PM EST coverage
Brooklyn Wednesday, February 26 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
MARCH
Denver Saturday, March 01 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Lakers Monday, March 03 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
Atlanta Wednesday, March 05 2014 10:30 PM EST coverage
@ Dallas Friday, March 07 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Houston Sunday, March 09 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Memphis Tuesday, March 11 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
@ San Antonio Wednesday, March 12 2014 9:30 PM EDT coverage
@ New Orleans Friday, March 14 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Golden State Sunday, March 16 2014 9:00 PM EDT coverage
Milwaukee Tuesday, March 18 2014 10:00 PM EDT coverage
Washington Thursday, March 20 2014 10:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Charlotte Saturday, March 22 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Miami Monday, March 24 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Orlando Tuesday, March 25 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Atlanta Thursday, March 27 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Chicago Friday, March 28 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Memphis Sunday, March 30 2014 9:00 PM EDT coverage
APRIL
@ Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, April 01 2014 10:30 PM EDT coverage
Phoenix Friday, April 04 2014 10:00 PM EDT coverage
New Orleans Sunday, April 06 2014 9:00 PM EDT coverage
Sacramento Wednesday, April 09 2014 10:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Utah Friday, April 11 2014 9:00 PM EDT coverage
Golden State Sunday, April 13 2014 9:00 PM EDT coverage
Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday, April 16 2014 10:30 PM EDT coverage
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