Last year, the Portland Trail Blazers finished with a measly 29-23 record against the Western Conference. It's safe to say that the Blazers underachieved vs. Western Conference teams, at least in the regular season. That is evident by their combined 1-7 record vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets, the two teams that Portland beat in 7-game series in the post-season (Without Jusuf Nurkic, of course. The Lakers and Clippers are used as examples of "tougher" Western Conference teams that Portland will have trouble against. However, Portland lucked out and only play each team 3 times instead of 4. When you look at the schedule, Portland also has favorable circumstances when facing both teams. For the Lakers, the play them twice at home. Combined with their possibility of injury and load management, it won't be hard for Portland to go 1-2 or even 2-1 against the team that they went 2-2 against last year. For the Clippers, Portland will face them in early November when they're likely to be missing Paul George, and on the last night of the regular season, when there's a high probability that the Clips will be resting players. However, when you look elsewhere across the Western Conference, I don't see how anyone could logically say that Portland will have a worse record than they did last season. Portland was 24-20 against the other 12 teams in the conference, and for a team as talented as Portland, that's a mark that shouldn't be hard to surpass. Let's break it down team by team: - The Clippers got better. We were 3-1 against them last year. We'll play them once without PG and on the last night of the season (they might be resting). Prediction: 1-2 or 2-1 - The Jazz got better but aren't any better than us and they were 2-2 last year. That's what I'm expecting. Prediction: 2-2 - The Lakers got better but we were 2-2 against them last year. Now we only play them 3 times (twice in Portland), and combined with their injury and load-management possibilities, Prediction: 1-2 or 2-1 - The Rockets didn't improve much, if at all. Westbrook is more talented than Paul, but a worse fit. They didn't really make any other moves. We were 2-1 against them last year. Prediction: 2-2 - The Nuggets probably improved because of their youth, but we were 1-3 against them last year. Can't see it getting any worse... Prediction: 1-3 or 2-2 - The Thunder got much worse, and we were 0-4 against them as well. Prediction: 3-1 or 4-0 - Dallas is (hypothetically) better, but not better than us. We went 2-2 verse them. If anything, we gain a game. Prediction: 2-2 or 3-1 - Golden State got worse, we split 2-2 with them. I don't expect to be worse considering we play them 3 times without Klay. Prediction: 2-2 - San Antonio didn't get any better. We split 2-2 with them. I don't expect anything worse. Prediction: 2-2 - Sacremento got better because of youth, but we were 2-1 against them last season. Prediction: 2-2 or 3-1 - New Orleans did improve a bit, and we were 3-0 against them. We're still the better team though. Prediction 2-2 or 3-1 - Hard to say Minnesota got better. We were 3-1 against them last year. I see a repeat. Prediction 3-1 - The Grizzlies and Suns aren't good. We might lose a game or two though. We play them a total of 7 times. Prediction 5-2 to 7-0 Last years record vs. Western Conference: 29-23 My 2019-2020 prediction vs. Western Conference: 28-24 to 37-15 So playing it on the safe side, I only see Portland declining a game or so against the Western Conference. Of course, Portland could lose ground against the East, as they went 24-6 against the Eastern Conference last year, but the "West has gotten better", so therefore, the East has to have gotten worse... So I'm tired of hearing the uneducated argument that Portland will win 8 or 10 less games because of "how much tougher the West has gotten". That's an argument that's used every year by those who sleep on the team (every single year). It seems to me that people have forgotten how much we underachieved last year against the Western Conference. To only win the widely-predicted 45 games, Portland would have to have a .500 record against the Western Conference and lose 5 more games against the implied "weaker Eastern Conference". I don't see either of those things happening. To me, this argument isn't logical in the slightest.