This postseason has been a tale of two Blazers teams. The team that confidently decimated the Thunder and withstood a seven game oxygen depleted series against Denver. There is that team and then there is the other. The one we have seen in the western conference finals. An inferior team full of hesitance, without mettle, who seemingly doesn’t belong on one the biggest stages in the NBA. The team that got embarrassed once again by the Golden State Warriors on Saturday in a 110-99 Game 3 loss at the Moda Center. The Blazers are the small skinny timid kid and the Warriors are the bully bent on taking their lunch money.
Again, the game started out well enough. Terry Stotts actually made an adjustment, moving Meyers Leonard to the starting Lineup in place of an injured fasting Enes Kanter. Meyers played the game of his life, scoring 13 first half points with 16 overall to go with 5 rebounds and 6 assists. The Moda center was an exciting place to be in the first half, with the Blazers building their lead as high as 18, making the Warriors once again look beatable. But, inside Blazer fans reserved a sense of hesitance. They saw what had happened in the second half of game 2.
It happened again. It took the Warriors till the end of the third to take the lead, but they did. They outscored Portland 29-13 in the third quarter and took an 82-79 lead into the fourth quarter. The Blazers never saw it again. The Warriors ran away laughing as the Blazers spent the final quarter like a deer in the headlights. Lillard and McCollum playing hero ball and missing left and right. The Blazers looked done. All that is left is for the Warriors to put a stamp on it and mail the Blazers to their summer vacation.
None of this should come as much as a surprise. The Blazers are playing the champions. They right path somehow aligned to get them here. They slipped through and found themselves in a place that they don’t belong. The Warriors are holding the Blazers at arms length, hand on their head, while Portland throws a bevy of punches that go no where. Like the last few times Portland faced them, it seems close, but it is not close at all. Not really.
All the Blazers will have at the end of this will be plane tickets to Fiji, and perhaps a bit of experience learned. One thing they will not have, respect. No one outside of Portland will remember the first halves of these games. Only the second halves in which the Warriors dominated. There will only be the champions and the second rate small town team that should have never been there. It will have been David vs Goliath, only this time, the realistic version.
But, hey it is what it is. No shame. Yeah, Dame played with separated ribs. But, let’s be real. He wasn’t playing any better before that. Meyers Leonard’s trade value went up, so there is that. CJ McCollum had a far improved playoff this postseason from last. Who knows if Kanter will return. Curry? Maybe he will go join his brother in San Francisco next season. Better to be on the Devil’s side than in his path. Rodney Hood? We will see.
It will probably be like 2000, not that the Blazers will get to game 7 this time around. But, in the sense that the team won’t likely get another chance to go at it together as they are. A chance to do it with a healthy Nurkic and Kanter. The Blazers have very little cap space this summer. That is probably what hurts the most, knowing that this was the chance, and it likely won’t come again, not for a long time. But, lets through game 4 first before we continue to go there. One more round with the Warriors in a brutal match. We will see if Terry Stotts throws in the towel. The Warriors have knocked the Blazers down again and again, but Portland is stubborn to a fault. They don’t like staying down. No team has come back from 0-3 in the history of the NBA Playoffs. The Blazers almost did it once against the Mavericks. I have no expectation they will do it here.