Portland Trail Blazers unceremoniously swept in Round One


Before this series started, the Trailblazers needed several things to go right just to have a chance. Golden State won 67 games in the regular season and came into the playoffs very hot. The Blazers squeaked into the 8th seed, although they were also pretty hot, having won seven of 10 down the stretch.

A lot can happen over a best-of-seven series, but the three things that I suggested Portland would need (get hot, get healthy, and get lucky) never came to fruition.

The Blazers did get hot in game one. CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard went bonkers in the first half, ultimately scoring 75 combined points in the game, but nobody else showed up. The two were masterful on a few occasions, but even they had rough patches.

McCollum hits the shot below, but if he wanted to swing it an extra time, Lillard is wide open as well. The Blazers had this kind of play in the back pocket, but only if Lillard can pass out of the trap at the beginning. Golden State, of course, didn't always let that happen.

Unfortunately for Portland, the Warriors were too much down the stretch of game one. They outscored the Blazers by 12 in the fourth quarter and won the game by that same margin.

That game one performance was the hottest a Blazer would get in the series, and that spelled doom. Games two and four were blowouts, and while game three was close, Lillard's nine missed threes were enough to submarine a 13 point halftime advantage.

Portland needed to get healthy to have a chance, and they only started to do that by the time the series ended. Jusuf Nurkic came back for game three on a minutes restriction and managed to grab 11 rebounds in just under 17 minutes. He doled out four assists, too. In those 17 minutes, Nurkic was a +8 on the box-score, so having a healthier version of him may have affected the series a little bit.

That didn't pan out. Nurkic's injured leg was tender after game three, so they held him out of game four altogether. It did not go well. The 25 point loss was worse than the score indicated, as Golden State jumped out to a 35-9 lead after about eight minutes. They were unstoppable. 

The last point in the series preview was that Portland would have to get lucky. They did not. Some luck could've come in the form of productivity beyond CJ and Dame, but that wasn't in the cards. In game one, guys not named CJ and Damian were 12-39 from the field overall. That same group was 0-10 in the fourth quarter, which started with the score tied at 88.

Those bench guys looked OK in the box score for game three (the other game Portland had a chance at winning), but a key stretch changed the game. Nurkic came out for Noah Vonleh about 4:00 into the 3rd quarter with a 13 point lead. Two minutes later, Al-Farouq Aminu and Allen Crabbe entered the game (Aminu came in for Vonleh) with a 12 point lead. Two minutes later the lead was down to four. By the 2:00 mark, Golden State was ahead.

That's basically how the whole series went. Portland could get hot, but not sustainably hot. They could get lucky, but not sustainably lucky. They thought they got healthy, but not sustainably healthy.

In a surprise to no one, Golden State was just too much to handle.

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