The Fantastic Portland 2019-20 Trailblazers

Just finished watching the not pre playoff but not regular season game between the Grizzlies and Blazers where Ja Morant as usual put on a show. I’m sure there are many Allen Iverson references whereas he is certainly just as explosive and athletic if not a little bit taller.

Damian Lillard didn’t score above 50 for a change albeit a very respectable 31 and 10 assists is nothing to sneer at.

The Portland game before this where he scored 42 was truly exciting. Brooklyn was double teaming him as he crossed halfcourt resulting in tremendous opportunities for center Nurkic and Melo who was permanently camped at the corner near their bench just waiting to score big threes. The Nets would only have three players left to defend and as soon as Lilliard would give up the ball it would end up with either the two who would make mincemeat of the defense. Non offensive minded guys like Nurkic aren’t impressive scorers but once you give him a full head of steam as he drives towards the hoop he is just difficult to stop.

What is hard to forget about that game was 25yo Caris Lavert, who is just a monster scorer that reminds me a little of Paul George. He can spin he can hesitate he can drop step he can shoot left and right he can do anything and will usually make his defender look foolish. I do feel he should have drove to the hoop instead of opting for a fade away jump shot when the game came to a point where he could have won it but ignoring that he was just a show all by himself out there. None of the other Nets seemed to matter and I am going to start looking out for this guy.

But anyway back to today’s game.

The guy who won it no doubt for the Blazers has to be CJ McCollum who kind of just woke up in the latter stages of the 4th and ended up with 29. I can’t find 4th quarter stats for Lillard but he seemed quiet at that point even if he topscored overall. McCollum’s ‘awakening’ around the final 5 minutes gave the team a much needed boost of energy to finally finish the stretch. Teams need that especially when they’ve been playing hard games everyday. You just need that one guy to get going and everybody feeds off of him and today it happened to be CJ. How anyone can play with a bad back is beyond me.

While the NBA is doing its best by emulating crowd noise and allowing virtual fans it was still amazing to see how quiet it was when the Blazers finally won the nail biter against Brooklyn the other day.

After Lavert’s miss the time ran out and the camera focused in on Lillard sighing and grabbing his knees in exhaustion with his teammates celebrating and patting each others backs. All teams would express relief at the end of a hard game except there wasn’t any crowd of people losing their minds and spilling onto the court from excitement. It was just a bunch of guys realizing that ‘whew, we won!’, and then happily and quietly congratulating each other and the opposing team, going back to the bench and planning their next game.

I’ll be honest here, I’m inspired by that.

Being in quarantine this long has drained me and I need every distraction I can find. I’ve been reading, watching movies, learning a new programming language, doing everything I can to just not think about how awful things are in the world and my immediate surroundings so the NBA fills that role somewhat.

The best way to deal with our situation is to get on with it. Not by any means go out and live life like we used to pre – Covid. Of course not. Things are NEVER going to be the same. But at the same time we need to keep going, to realize there are things that need to be done and to get ready for our next move.

The NBA is providing much needed distraction right now. There was a question months before as to what value sports in this context has in these trying times and I have to say this is it. Guys like me lap up this sport. It allows me albeit for a few hours to stare at a screen and enjoy the sight of a bunch of guys working hard towards a goal. A not – really – important goal if you think about it, and certainly nothing that has to do with me personally or professionally, but fun to watch just the same.