As it was during the 2009 playoffs, the 2009-10 slogan for the Portland Trail Blazers was "Rise with us!"

Which they have, but a more appropriate slogan for the year would be "Rehab with us!"

It all started Sept. 7, when it was announced rookie forward Jeff Pendergraph would need surgery to repair a congenital hip impingement. Next came rookie guard Patty Mills with a fractured bone in his foot.

OK, a few of the rookies would be out a few games, the major players are still healthy.

Not so fast! Next was Nicholas Batum. Batum is a big piece, but we will survive. Down goes Greg Oden with a season-ending knee injury. We still have Joel Przybilla, he can man the middle.

About two weeks later, down goes Przybilla with an injury similar to Oden's and out for the season as well. Brandon Roy, Jerryd Bayless, Rudy Fernandez, Travis Outlaw, and even coach Nate McMillan would all end up being sidelined because of injuries.

The Blazers would sign center Anthony Toliver and waive him a few days later, along with forward Shavlik Randolph to help fill the roster.

Martell Webster on how the team has been able to stay together during all the injuries: "Just by staying positive and everyone staying ready."

During the 2009 offseason, the Blazers signed former Philadelphia 76ers point guard Andre Miller to a contract, and Miller has proved to be an important piece to the team.

Miller on being signed by the Blazers: "It has been a slow process, but I am enjoying my new team. I like the city. Right now we've been dealing with a lot of injuries. Our goal is just to make the playoffs and see how we can do in the playoffs."

Let's not forget, Andre almost set a team record in points (Damon Stoudamire has the record of 54 back in 2005), Jan. 30 against the Dallas Mavericks. So how did it feel for him?

"It was all right. You know there is a first time for everything, so at least I can say as a professional athlete at the highest level, I was able to do that."

Probably the biggest story of the season (besides the injuries and Miller's big game) has to be the trade. On Feb. 16, the Blazers sent Outlaw and guard Steve Blake to the Los Angeles Clippers, in exchange for some much needed size, Marcus Camby.

Camby is averaging 7.2 points and 11.5 rebounds per game this season. The injury bug would hit Camby as well. Camby was sidelined twice because of a sprained ankle.

Now that the season is winding down, it's time to start looking at the playoffs. They currently have the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference and the team is talking about how they will secure their goal of making it.

"I think just to stay together, keep working the last remaining games, just playing basketball." Batum said.

"Win! Win! Win!" said Martell Webster.

So what does Sacramento Kings center Spencer Hawes have to say about Portland reaching their goal?

"I think they're in a pretty good position. They've struggled with a lot of injuries, they are a good young team."

If the Kings were to make the playoffs this year, would he want to face the Blazers?

"Yeah, it would be fun. It is always fun coming into this building (The Rose Garden), the atmosphere here, and it makes for good basketball."

Rudy Fernandez doesn't want to think about that goal just yet.

"I think we focus now on the regular season, probably play hard every game before we go to the playoffs, I don't think about the finals, I think about the regular season right now."

Some veteran help - and that veteran help coming from Juwan Howard, getting ready to wrap up his 16th season in the league - might be nice.

How is he helping his teammates getting the final push into the playoffs?

"I just try to let them know where we are as far as our goals; where we are, what we need to improve on, how we have to stay focused, stay driven and stay committed, they are aware of it. At times we have a little slippage, but that is a part of the game, we just have to get better and better."

With the exception of Oden and Przybilla, the team for the most part seems healthy. Webster's "Win! Win! Win!" and of course, health will be the key to the team's goal.

Two last notes: On March 2, Przybilla slipped while getting out of the shower at his home in Wisconsin and reinjured his ruptured patella tendon and underwent successful surgery.  There is no timetable for his return. Oden has been telling reporters that he hopes to return by the playoffs.

Tags