This Trail Blazer team is the closest any in Portland has been since 2000 to the western conference finals. Roy couldn’t do it. Lillard and Aldridge couldn’t do it. Lillard and McCollum are trying. The pressure was on full display Sunday evening, as the Nuggets held off the Blazers to tie the series 2-2, winning 116-112 at the Moda Center.
The Blazers had home court advantage. They were within reach of a 3-1 series advantage. It evaporated before the crowd’s very eyes. The Trail Blazers shot 5/17 (29%) from the field and 0/7 from afar in the third quarter, as the Nuggets were allowed to build a lead.
Lillard was 1 for 5 in the quarter from the field and 0/4 from three. It didn’t get much better in the fourth with Collins getting issued a costly technical foul, Lillard missing free throws, and a McCollum 3 with 4.4 seconds to bring it within 1, was changed to a two by official Scott Foster to the consternation of the Moda Center, who aptly booed him to hell for it.
The Blazers controlled the game for the most part in the first half taking a 63-57 lead to halftime behind 4 Seth Curry three pointers (He attempted no threes in the 2nd half). The lead felt good, like Portland was on top of it again. But, the floor fell through in the third. Perhaps, due to fatigue from the 4OT game #3 on Friday. The Blazers couldn’t pull it out this time. They will have to go back to Denver, and win another on the road. It is going to be near impossible against the best home team in the NBA, and with the mile high altitude.
Lillard has not been himself this series. Not at all. Since the 37 footer to close out the Thunder, he is shooting a combined 9/35(25%) from three. If the Blazers have any chance to win this series, Damian needs to find his shot. We can only hope he finds a way to get past whatever mental block is standing in his way. The pressure cooker is on. Let’s see how Lillard and the Blazers respond.