After a hard fought 6 game series against the Houston Rockets ending in a buzzer-beater, series-winning 3 by Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers fans rejoiced in finally moving passed the 1st round after 14 years. Still riding on the spectacular series win, the Trail Blazers headed into San Antonio against an experienced, deep Spurs team. Unfortunately, the Blazers have been blown out in the first two games in the series. Do the Blazers have what it takes to surpass the Spurs and ultimately walk away with the championship trophy? Let’s debate!
First and foremost, the Blazers have a real hill to climb in defeating the Spurs. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was in the 1999 Western Conference Finals in which the Spurs went on to win their first NBA title. Experience prevailed then and so far it’s tearing up the momentum the Blazers built up in the first round. The Blazers weren’t the same confident, sharp-shooting team that upset Houston. The Spurs basically bullied them like a little brother. Championship teams set the tone early, control the tempo, play intense defense, and create a flow of unstoppable offense. If the Blazers are to be a championship team and close out the series against the Spurs, they’ve got to lock down their perimeter defense, use those young legs and score in transition, and awaken their bench from the dead! And if they do beat the Spurs, they’ll face either the powerhouse Oklahoma City Thunder or the Los Angeles Clippers. If they can power through that series, they’ll probably face the brick wall that is the Miami Heat.
I know a lot of fans are just happy they’ve made it to the 2nd round and haven’t even thought about a Finals appearance. With all this talk about how teams with experience in playoff basketball will prevail, I’m brushing it off and the Blazers should too. They’re a young team with something to prove to everyone out there, even themselves that their first round win wasn’t a fluke. They are miles ahead in motivation and heart. They may not have experience, but they have key elements to walk into the NBA Finals. Now, I don’t know if they will win the whole thing this year, but I wouldn’t count them out. All of these guys are in the NBA for a reason. They can all play. It’s just a matter of who wants it more and who’s willing to make the adjustments to get there. Blazers blaze on!