Blogtable: Are Hornets or Blazers a more dangerous playoff sleeper team?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


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More dangerous sleeper playoff team — Hornets or Blazers?



VIDEONicolas Batum and Kemba Walker are driving Charlotte’s playoff push

> The more dangerous sleeper team this postseason: Charlotte or Portland?

David Aldridge, TNT analyst: Portland. When you have two players who can each get 30 in a playoff game (Damian Lillard has done it three times already; C.J. McCollum did it last spring against Memphis), you have a chance against just about everyone. And the Blazers’ role players (Ed Davis, Gerald Henderson, Mason Plumlee, etc.) all stay in their lanes and make themselves available. Lillard, especially, is just about unguardable when he gets space to operate, and McCollum is deadly at the midrange game.

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Portland. Damian Lillard is the most lethal player on either the Hornets or the Trail Blazers, and what he’s been doing to multiple opponents since the All-Star break particularly would be migraine-inducing were he to do it two or three times early in the best-of-seven series. Charlotte might have a better chance of winning more games in the first round or even advancing to the conference semifinals because of the quality of competition in the East, but that actually argues against any “sleeper” status. To earn that, you’ve got to bump off or at least frighten top competition — the Blazers likely will get a chance to do that right away while the Hornets might not survive long enough to do so.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: The Hornets because of their location in the Eastern Conference and they play better defense. Any team in the lower portion (6-8) of the West bracket is going to be very overmatched in a first-round series against Golden State, San Antonio or Oklahoma City. Anybody in the top half of the East could be vulnerable to a Charlotte team that is low in turnovers (ranked No. 2) and high in Kemba Walker.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Under the theory, for the sake of conversation, that both get there: Portland. That’s not an easy thing to say right now, with the Hornets going good and the Blazers slightly limping, and I am often praising the work of Charlotte coach Steve Clifford, but it’s easy to see the Hornets having a lot of trouble making shots. That’s the case anyway, but four to seven games against an opponent that could have a top-10 defense (Cleveland, Boston) or a defense better than average (Toronto) could be too much. Plus, Portland would be in the postseason playing with house money as a team very few people expected to be there in the first place. That’s not to say they would play like a team just happy to make the postseason. The team that has played loose in the regular season, though, could carry the same personality into late-April. Double plus: One of the two teams you want us to choose between has Damian Lillard, one doesn’t.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: Charlotte, even without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The Hornets are deeper and less predictable than the Blazers and Kemba Walker is going nuts at the moment and is almost on par with Damian Lillard. Plus the Blazers will likely see the Warriors or Spurs in the first round, while the Hornets will have an easier opponent by comparison. And get this: Imagine how much better the Hornets would be with a healthy Kidd-Gilchrist and had they kept Bismack Biyombo, who is a shot-blocking terror in Toronto.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Charlotte. The Hornets have a 3-7 record against the top four teams in the East and the Blazers have a 3-6 record against the top four teams in the West. But the Hornets have a better point differential (with much better defense) in those games, the Blazers may struggle if one of their two stars gets taken out of the offense in a playoff series, and teams 2-4 in the East are much more beatable than teams 2-4 in the West.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: As entertaining as they have been here recently, I have a hard time seeing the Trail Blazers upsetting the Spurs in the first round (based on the standings right now). Damian Lillard would have to go off for 50 a couple of times in that series to make the Spurs sweat a little bit. But the Hornets and Celtics would be a much more dangerous series for the higher-seeded Celtics. Kemba Walker is having one of the best and most underrated seasons of any point guard in the league. And his supporting cast continues to impress in different ways while also flying under the radar. The Hornets could be a real problem for whoever they match up against in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.comThe top four teams in the West are not going to lose in the first round. Nobody is knocking off the Warriors, Spurs, Thunder or Clippers (so long as they’re healthy, of course). That’s why I’m giving the edge to the Hornets: If there’s going to be an opening-round upset, it’s happening in the East.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blogPortland is dangerous, with a backcourt staffed by two capable scorers, and a collection of above-average players who know their role. As we’ve seen, they can beat any team in the NBA, although it may be hard to summon that kind of sharpshooting night after night in a seven-game series. Which is why I think Charlotte is the more dangerous postseason team, if only because they’re in the Eastern Conference and should have a more advantageous matchup than Portland. The Hornets have solid players in the backcourt, wings and in the post, and should be able to find/create mismatches all over the court.

14 Comments

  1. jay says:

    real underdog threat is memphis , think people forgot how lillard couldn’t score on a mike conley with 3 injuries, only time he scored more than 15 points was when mike conley was out with a broken face and udrih was guarding him. only good thing about lillard this year he didn’t whine about not being an all star last year he whined and got shut down in the playoffs

  2. MT says:

    Perhaps this discussion should be tabled until the Hornets have beaten both top team in each conference as the Blazers have?

  3. Kjell says:

    Interesting. These experts are answering two different questions as if they are one in the same. The argument for Charlotte is that they have the better chance based on their opponents. Those that chose the Blazers seem to think Portland is the more dangerous team. I would like to see this question revisited with a unified criteria and see what their opinion would be.

  4. GYFM says:

    Estoy esperando el partido de mañana entre Portland vs Golden State, si portlan le gana en Casa a Golden State deberian dejarse caer hasta la 8va posicion. creo que tienen mas chances jugando contra Golden State que jugando con cualquiera de los otros.

  5. Aaron says:

    I honestly feel that CHA has the advantage. I’m not saying that they’re the better team, but lets face it they’re in the eastern conference. Other than CLE there’s really no safe team in the east, but even CLE at times isn’t safe depending on how well they’re playing and injuries being a constant issue. The west on the other hand is a different beast. If CLE was placed in the western conference they would be fighting OKC just for 3rd place. If you remember last year there were a few teams battling for the 8th spot that could have easily placed 6 or 7 in the eastern conference. I must say POR has already surprised me especially after rebuilding their roster. C.J has been huge complimenting an all ready developed all-star in Damian Lillard, and I do feel that this era belong to the guards; so a solid backcourt is necessary. It’s going to be exciting to watch, but I feel an upset on the rise my friends.

  6. john bryan says:

    Lowkey Hornets. Kemba is stringing himself some very good games and doing it with a much improved 3 point shot. Lillard has been very vocal with his all-star snub but Kemba(and the Hornets) just keep on rolling even though haven’t been getting much media attention.

  7. Neither. They are who they are and will stay where they are and who they are.

  8. yo says:

    The Clippers would need Griffin back for me to have any confidence in them advancing.

  9. Etch says:

    Walker is not on par with Lillard. What Lillard did against GSW was once in a lifetime. No one has ever put up numbers like that, first since Jordan in 96, and first since Miller in 92, why not just come out and say no one has put up those numbers. For someone to say walker is on the same level is beyond foolish, by definition to be a sleeper you should have less than a 5% chance to win the series so how do half of these experts choose the hornets when their reasoning is the quality of opponent the hornets will face.

    • Boo niggity says:

      Dont be silly lillard gets more media than walker prolly havent seen a hornets game all year two teams are similar but kemba makes everyone better thats on the floor

    • D says:

      Kemba Walker is for sure on par if not better than Lilliard. Lilliard just gets more pub. Kemba is the truth and should have been an All- Star. We will see when playoffs start.

      • Pppp says:

        What are you smoking? You speak like Lilliard made the allstars. He damn near lost his whole starting cast and to comeback and do what he’s done with this team is flat out amazing. Walker plays in the east. The east is dirt and has been for years, everyone knows it. Hornets are trash.🙂

  10. gabe spencer says:

    I don’t know folks. The NBA doesn’t lend itself to too many playoff upsets. There is too much disparity between the “Haves” (cleveland, GS and SA) and “Have nots”. Plus think about the importance of playoff experience. Oklahoma-SA-LAC have so much more real playoff experience compared to the blazers with only one starter back. I love them. I am a season ticket holder and I’m blown away by their development but they aren’t going to surprise anyone at the top.