Well, the 2020 NBA Playoffs are upon us. With its Disney Bubble premise in full effect, the 16 teams are squaring off to determine this year’s champion. While it’s hard to think that there won’t be an asterisk next to the 2020 title, a champion will be crowned.
The NBA is a fickle beast. Star-driven and tank-friendly, teams in the dumpster one year can be the king of the mountain the next. With that, stakes are high for almost every team as they make their playoff run, with sought-after stars often heading for greener pastures if they feel their squad can’t get over the hump.
We’re looking at each of the NBA playoff contenders and diving into what’s at stake for each team, the odds of making a deep run, and key storylines to watch.
Let’s hit the Portland Trail Blazers.
Portland Trail Blazers
Expectations: What Expectations?
The Blazers are the fringe team that everyone was rooting for. After the heroics of last years playoff run and what they’ve been doing in the bubble thus far they have easily won the hearts of NBA fans across the country. So, when it comes to expectations, there aren’t really any because we are all just glad to see them in the mix to begin with. Combined with the fact that they are up against a dominant number 1 seed in the Lakers, their only expectations are to provide us with more exciting basketball to watch.
What’s Working for Them
Obviously the answer to that is Damian Lillard. He averaged 37.0 points per game during the seeding round and not only scored 51 against a hobbled Sixers team, but then went on to drop 61(!) against the Mavs. His sheer determination to put his team on his proverbial back and to turn into a real-life Kool-Aid man to burst through the playoffs is scary. No one currently in the league plays better or is more fun to watch than Dame when he has a big old chip on his shoulder.
Carmelo Anthony also seems to have found his right fit as a role player in Rip City. And his veteran leadership will prove vital as they attempt to make another deep playoff run. Not to mention he’s shooting over 50% from outside and even higher in catch and shoot situations. CJ McCollum has gained Dame’s trust in big shot situations. The return of strong play by Jusuf Nurkic is filling out the starting 5 nicely.
What Might Hold Them Back:
The fact is that the Blazers don’t have an answer to Anthony Davis, so in the long run that could be what hurts them most. After an exciting but potentially exhausting seeding round, their tanks may be running out of gas. Their opponent on the other hand has had the 1 seed locked up for nearly 2 weeks, which has given them the opportunity to load manage their marquee players and rest them up.
The Blazers lack of defense could also lead to their downfall, especially against a top notch duo of Davis and James. The Blazers had one of the worst defenses in the bubble giving up an average of over 120 points per game. Dame is gonna to have put up a lot of points to overcome deficits like that. That’s one hell of task.
Storyline to Watch
Gary Trent Jr. has been the biggest surprise for the Blazers since he joined the team in the bubble. Proving to be the defensive stopper that they desperately need, as well a proven sharpshooter, he’s as versatile as they come. Should they make a deep run into the playoffs he easily becomes a front runner for 6th man of the year honors.
If there’s one upset that we are all rooting for it’s safe to say that it’s this one. Will it happen? All I’m saying is that they call it the Wild West for a reason. I’m certainly not putting any craziness out of reach in 2020.
But it’s hard to fathom that they can come out on top in a 7 game series over the powerhouse that is the Lakers. If they do however, maybe I will try and get my cousin Mercy to re-create one of her old routines from when she was on the Rip City Dance Team and film it. That would be almost as much fun as this series promises to be.
Oh, and lest we forget the Dame/Skip Bayless feud that is playing out on twitter. It’s glorious and I can’t get enough.
- / 9 hours ago
It's Week 3... and the computer didn't pick Chris Herndon this time