The Portland Trail Blazers have been a very good NBA team ever since they drafted Damian Lillard, no one doubts this. However, the Blazers, for the most part, have been considered an early exit team in the playoffs, never having been past the second round of the playoffs. Could this be the year that all changes?
With the series with the Nuggets all tied up at two apiece, this looks like the best shot the Blazers have had at a deep playoff run since Dame and McCollum arrived in Portland. The impressive part of this Blazers team, and why I think its different than playoff runs they’ve made in the past goes beyond Damian Lillard.
Historically if Dame has a bad night the Blazers are going home with a double-digit loss. The most impressive part of the Blazers team this year is the number of guys who are able to pick up slack and take the pressure off of Damian Lillard. Evidence for this came in game two of the Conference semi-finals this year. Facing going down 2-0 in the series Damian Lillard did not have his characteristic night, he finished with 14 points on 5-17 shooting. Any other post-season the Blazers are losing this game BIG. That is where this Blazer’s tea separates itself from teams of the past. They pulled out a win in Game Two on the backs of CJ McCollum’s 20 points, along with four other players in double figures. This type of play extended to game three as well. The Blazers were able to pull out the absurd 4 OT game, not because of an explosion from Damian Lillard, but because of a great performance from CJ McCollum and three other players with 15 plus points.
With the series even at 2-2, it will be interesting to see if this Blazers team proves me right, and puts together the pieces for a shot at the Conference Finals.