DENVER -- Statistically, the team that takes Game 5 wins the series 82.4% of the time, that’s with an overall record of 168-36 in NBA history.
Tuesday night was the critical Game 5 of the Trail Blazers-Nuggets series. The Blazers came out flat, while the Nuggets brought the energy. Denver rolled to a 124-98 victory and now take a 3-2 lead as the we head back to Portland.
History is not in the Blazers favor; media, fans, and Joe Schmoe off the street are most likely taking the Nuggets to win this thing after the Game 5 drubbing.
This is nothing new for Portland.
In fact, after the Game 5 loss, Meyers Leonard said he feels like having national media or whoever not believing in this Blazers team is "kind of the norm."
Again, the Blazers have been here before.
During the preseason, Trail Blazers were projected by ESPN to finish 10th in the West and end up missing the playoffs because the Lakers now had LeBron James.
And then there was this from Bleacher Report in August of this last summer:
“Forty-seven wins was the cutoff for the top eight in the West last season, and that may be close to the standard again given the depth in the conference… Finishing anywhere between third and sixth should be the goal for Portland, since that will likely mean avoiding the Warriors or Houston Rockets until the Western Conference Finals.
While the Blazers could pull off another top-six finish, a level of regression should be expected.”
The Blazers did not regress this season and instead Portland hit the 50-win mark for the 14th time in franchise history and for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
Yes, they have been able to overcome adversity before and they'll be fighting for their playoff life in Game 6 on Thursday night in Portland.
“We’ve got to tighten up and understand if we don’t, we’ll be going home,” CJ McCollum said postgame.
While having naysayers, can fuel a team and it has fueled the Blazers at times in recent history, but in this playoff moment, McCollum is not worried about the doubters.
“We don’t really care about doubt,” McCollum said with a straight face. “We have to do a better job of playing -- focus on us, focus on executing the coach’s game plan, focus on getting stops and then we can get out and run and make the game fun.”
The Blazers did not look like a team that was having fun on Tuesday. In this postseason though, the Blazers have had plenty of fun games and crazy moments – i.e. ‘the shot.’
Just look at the OKC series; Portland was projected to lose to the Thunder in the 1st round, despite being the higher seed. The doubt has been around even after the Blazers grabbed the third spot in the Western Conference.
“Doubters and naysayers, and people that try to make assumptions or have thoughts about your team -- they don’t know who we are and they don’t know what we’ve been through, they’re not in this locker room everyday. We’re going to stick together and we’re going to be just fine because that’s the team that we have in this locker room,” Leonard said.
That team in the Blazers locker room was not okay with the way they played on Tuesday night, and that team is going to lay it all on the line in front of thousands of Rip City fans on Thursday night.
Win or go home.
Will the Blazers quiet the doubters once again?