Denver Nuggets

CJ McCollum and all of Rip City react AGAIN to Trail Blazers Game 7 win over Nuggets

CJ McCollum and all of Rip City react AGAIN to Trail Blazers Game 7 win over Nuggets

All the emotions resurfaced for this classic game.

Game 7 of last year’s playoffs between the Trail Blazers and Nuggets had a little bit of everything!

And as all the postseason feelings came rushing back, it was fun to relive this comeback win with Rip City Faithful. 

Heading into the final game of the series, here is how things played out:

Game 1 Mon. April 29 DENVER 121, Portland 113

Game 2 Wed. May 1 Portland 97, DENVER 90

Game 3 Fri. May 3 PORTLAND 140, Denver 137 (4OT)

Game 4 Sun. May 5 Denver 116, PORTLAND 112

Game 5 Tue. May 7 DENVER 124, Portland 98

Game 6 Thurs. May 9 PORTLAND 119, Denver 108

The win in Denver was in big thanks to CJ McCollum, who posted 37 points and nine rebounds to lead the Trail Blazers to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 19 years.

McCollum got it done on both ends too.

We can’t forget about that chase-down swat!

The Trail Blazers shooting guard’s crucial chase-down block on Jamal Murray in crunch time helped turn the tide as the Blazers beat the Nuggets 100-96.

McCollum hit the Blazers first three pointer of the game about four minutes into the second quarter. Portland started the game 0-for-10 from deep.

He was the only Blazer scoring at ease early on.

During tonight's replay of the game, The Trail Blazers shooting guard was live-tweeting the second half on the Trail Blazers’ Twitter, because as CJ put it: “The first half was a snoozefest.”

McCollum’s second half play-by-play was as fantastic as his play in Game 7.

The pull-up jumper to put the Blazers up three with just under 12 seconds remaining in the game was just what McCollum wanted – he got to his spot.

AND... McCollum was out there spitting the truth on Twitter as well:

Plus, he broke the news that he and his fiancée Elise are officially adopting their puppy that they have been fostering for the last week. 

It’s really no surprise this series went to seven games. Denver won the regular season series against Portland in 2018-19, 3-1. All four games were decided by single digits.

And even though it was the CJ McCollum takeover game, Evan Turner was also clutch down the stretch.  ET came up big from the free throw line in the final seconds, while scoring 10 of his 14 points for the game in the fourth quarter.

Turner was fresh after not playing that much in the series, but was given extra minutes after Rodney Hood went out with a knee injury.  

 

ET had scored just four points in the first six games of the series before his clutch Game 7 performance.

What a night it was! To be heading to the team’s first WCF appearance in 19 years was a pretty overwhelming feeling for all of Portland, but especially for the leader of Rip City, Damian Lillard.

There really were so many great memories from that night. And Meyers Leonard even reminded us what the celebration was like in the locker room.

It was also a nice chance to trash talk Denver Nuggets fans once again:

Now, here’s to hoping the NBA resumes and the Trail Blazers are given the chance to get back to the playoffs.

How to Watch: Trail Blazers dramatic Game 7 win vs. Nuggets to clinch WCF berth

How to Watch: Trail Blazers dramatic Game 7 win vs. Nuggets to clinch WCF berth

Get ready... Those goosebumps from last year's playoffs are coming back tonight! 

May 12, 2019 was a day of celebration in Rip City.  

CJ McCollum posted 37 points and added nine rebounds to lead the Trail Blazers over the Nuggets in Game 7 with Portland heading to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 19 years.

And we can’t forget about that chase-down swat from McCollum!

The Trail Blazers shooting guard’s a crucial chase-down block on Jamal Murray down the stretch that helped the Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets 100-96.

''CJ McCollum showed why they have one of the best backcourts in the NBA. He put his team on his back and made big play after big play,'' Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said postgame.

The Blazers were down 48-39 at halftime.

Evan Turner was also clutch from the free throw line in the final seconds. He had 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. Turner had scored just four points in the first six games of the series before his big Game 7 performance.

Now relive the magic tonight at 6pm on NBC Sports Northwest. 

Starters for 2019 NBA Playoffs Game 7:

DENVER

Jamal Murray

Gary Harris

Paul Millsap

Torrey Craig

Nikola Jokic  

PORTLAND

Damian Lillard

CJ McCollum

Al-Farouq Aminu

Maurice Harkless

Enes Kanter 

HOW TO WATCH Blazers vs. Nuggets

WHEN: Monday, March 30th at 6:00pm 

Channel: NBC Sports Northwest, Channel 737 (Portland), 617 (Seattle)

CHANNEL FINDER

Stream the game here.  

NBC Sports Northwest is airing 12 Trail Blazers Classic Games over the next few weeks.

The full schedule can be found here.

Social media reacts (again) to Nurkic’s first game vs. Denver

Social media reacts (again) to Nurkic’s first game vs. Denver

Watching the March 28th, 2017 matchup between the Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets in Friday night’s classic game, fans were so happy to be watching Blazers games again.

The Trail Blazers (35-38) entered the game tied with the Nuggets (35-38) for the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs race.

But, besides the importance of the game with the playoff hunt, it was Jusuf Nurkic’s first game in a Trail Blazers uniform against his former team.

It was on Feb. 12 when the Trail Blazers acquired Nurkic and the rights to Memphis’ 2017 first round pick from Denver in exchange for Mason Plumlee, along with a 2018 second round pick, and cash considerations.

Nurk fever had already started in Rip City before this game, but it was in full effect as he cruised to a career-high 33 points to go along with 15 rebounds, two blocks, and one steal.

Let the Nurk Fever tweets commence!

Also, how much did re-watching this game give you flashbacks of the strong connection between Damian Lillard and Nurk?

Their pick and roll action is a thing of beauty and it got people talking on Twitter.

The Blazers beat the Nuggets 122-113 in the fourth and final regular season matchup between the two. Portland took the season series 3-1. 

Another trending topic from fans of today -- was the hard screens set by the Bosnian Beast and the Hammer, Meyers Leonard.

In the win, CJ McCollum finished with 39 points and five rebounds.


And we can't forget Nurk telling his former team to, "I wish those guys a happy summer."

 

How to Watch: Jusuf Nurkic's first game vs. Denver Nuggets

How to Watch: Jusuf Nurkic's first game vs. Denver Nuggets

This instant classic will tug at your heart strings when thinking about the year-long rehab process that Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic has endured.

Let’s go back to March 28th, 2017, the first time would square off against his former team, the Denver Nuggets as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. Denver had traded Nurkic to Portland just over a month earlier, and with it, Nurk Fever was born in Rip City.
Anybody playing against their former team always wants to show everyone that they are doing great and are in a better situation.

And boy, did Nurk do just that.
The Bosnian Beast and Nikola Jokic battles were fun to watch. As Nurkic took it right at the Joker, he made a statement by finishing with a career night of 33 points.
As for Mason Plumlee, the player he was traded for, the former Blazers center had zero points and one rebound.

Nurkic's performance earned him the postgame interview with Trail Blazers sideline report Brooke Olzendam.

Just like on the court, Nurk didn’t hold back.

"I wish those guys a happy summer," he told Olzendam.

And that’s when Rip City fell in love with Nurkic all over again.

Starters for Mar. 28, 2017 Game:

DENVER

Jameer Nelson

Gary Harris

Nikola Jokic

Wilson Chandler

Danilo Gallinari

PORTLAND

Damian Lillard

CJ McCollum

Noah Vonleh

Maurice Harkless

Jusuf Nurkic

HOW TO WATCH Blazers vs. Nuggets

WHEN: Friday, March 27th at 6pm

Channel: NBC Sports Northwest, Channel 737 (Portland), 617 (Seattle)

CHANNEL FINDER

Instagram Live: During tonight’s game, Jusuf Nurkic and Trail Blazers television analyst Lamar Hurd will be going live on the Blazers Instagram account.

Stream the game here. 

NBC Sports Northwest is airing 12 Trail Blazers Classic Games over the next few weeks.

The full schedule can be found here.

Social media reacts to Blazers-Nuggets 4OT Game 3 again and... all the feels

Social media reacts to Blazers-Nuggets 4OT Game 3 again and... all the feels

Now that was fun!

It was sixty-eight minutes of basketball that became an instant classic last season. 

And really how great was it re-watching the Trail Blazers and Nuggets quadruple-overtime Game 3 from May 3rd of last year?

As if watching the game again wasn't exciting enough, it was also fun seeing Trail Blazers shooting guard Anfernee Simons takeover the Trail Blazers Twitter account.

 

It’s hard to believe that it has been 13 days since the NBA was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Not surprising -- Trail Blazers fans were elated to watch their hometown team once again.  

And, we all learned that the youngster Simons was kind enough to teach Rodney Hood such a nice floater. [Insert laughing/crying emoji here].

With Denver winning the season series last year against Portland, 3-1 and all four games were decided by single digits, it shouldn't have been shocking that these two would play extra basketball. 

But, seeing the injured Zach Collins (left shoulder) and Rodney Hood (left Achilles) on the court was giving Rip City all the feelings.

 

Trail Blazers fans were also missing the team chemistry and continuity.

And what about the Enes Kanter and Nikola Jokic battles?

Jokic finished with 33 points and played the most minutes out of anyone with 65 minutes. He also had 18 rebounds and 14 assists. 

While Kanter held his ground. The Blazers starting center had 18 points and on 8-of-16 shooting to go along with 15 rebounds.

Kanter's three-point highlight video even got a retweet from Kanter! See even the former players were happy to look back at this game.

There were also plenty of #3J moments as well. CJ McCollum led all scorers with 41 points. It was late in the game and in the overtime periods when McCollum was in total takeover mode. He also added eight rebounds and four assists.

And on Tuesday night, everybody was showing their appreciation for McCollum's Game 3 performance. 

 

You can’t forget about Headband Moe though. Maurice Harkless finished with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.

 

 

But, let’s be honest the tweets were coming in hot down the stretch and into the FOUR overtimes.

 

Trail Blazers fans were reliving all the nerves of this one. 

Playing in a quadruple overtime game, the minds and legs were starting to go… And then… It was a fresh Rodney Hood to the rescue who led the final charge coming off the bench in the final OT to boost Portland to a 140-137 victory.

 

 

Hoodie finished with 19 points on an efficient 6-of-8 shooting. Hood had scored 16 points total in Portland's first round series against Oklahoma City. 

 

But in watching the re-air, it was just nice to see him out on the court, period. 

How the Trail Blazers will repeat the magic of '77 in 2021

How the Trail Blazers will repeat the magic of '77 in 2021

On Sunday, NBC Sports Northwest aired the first of 12 Trail Blazers Classic Games, starting with none other than Game 6 of the 1977 NBA Finals. 

In case you aren't up to speed on Trail Blazers history, it was on the afternoon of June 5th, 1977 that the Blazers beat the 76ers in Game 6 to claim a 4-2 series victory and the franchise's first and only NBA Championship. 

The next morning, Portland was bursting at the seams. Fans lined the streets of downtown as the team celebrated with a victory parade. 

It has been 43 years since that parade took place. But, what if this were the last summer the Trail Blazers had without one? What if next season all the cards were dealt in Portland's favor? What if 44 years after making history, the Blazers did it again? What if there was a '21 championship parade?

Just imagine for a minute what could happen next season...

It's late October 2020. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 the NBA suspended and later canceled the remainder of the 2019-2020 season. 
Finally, all the quarantines are lifted and it's back to business as usual. 

The NBA, one of the first sports leagues in the United States to feel the impact of the pandemic, is finally taking back to the court. 

For the Blazers, there is more than just a return of the game, but the return of key players as well. 

Jusuf Nurkic, who was supposed to make his return on March 15th, will finally see game action after a 17-month hiatus. Zach Collins, who was dealing with a shoulder injury and missed most of the 2019-20 season, is returning as well. Except for Rodney Hood, who is in the final stages of recovering from a ruptured Achilles, the Blazers are finally close to full strength. 

Continuity is key in the NBA, and the Blazers have a lot of it at this point. 

Thanks to a shortened offseason, the Blazers wasted no time signing their own free agents. 

Hassan Whiteside returned on a team-friendly deal and Carmelo Anthony, staying true to his word about seeing himself retire as a Blazers, signs a multi-year deal to ride off into the sunset wearing red and black. 
Trevor Ariza's contract was also guaranteed for the season and the team signed Wenyen Gabrial to a multi-year after he showed great potential in limited time last season.

However, Caleb Swanigan walked as a free agent, signing a lucrative deal to be the starting center for the New York Knicks. Needing to find another big to fill the roster, the Blazers turned to a familiar face: Meyers Leonard.

The seven-footer signed a veteran minimum deal, and with Leonard and Hezonja, the Blazers had the best Call of Duty duo in the league.

The roster was fully loaded and ready to roll. 
PG: Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, 
SG: CJ McCollum, Gary Trent Jr
SF: Trevor Ariza, Nassir Little, Mario Hezonja
PF: Zach Collins, Carmelo Anthony, Wenyen Gabrial
C: Jusuf Nurkic, Hassan Whiteside, Meyers Leonard
INJURED: Hood

The Blazers were primed for a run, but first they had to get through the stacked Western Conference. 

Atop the west were the two favorites, the Lakers and the Clippers. 

Unfortunately for the Lakers, LeBron James showed up to camp out of shape having treated every day of the quarantine as Taco Tuesday.
Now you know why Taco Wednesday, Taco Thursday, etc were trending all summer. 

As for the Clippers, they were laser-focused. Kawhi Leonard has always been the self-isolation king. He was the only NBA player in his element all summer, and Clippers would reap the benefit. 

Next, you had teams like the Nuggets.  

People would continue to sleep on Denver and burn Jokic for being "out of shape," yet no team has an answer for the Joker. If he is a triple-double machine "out of shape," I'd hate to see him in shape. They were deservedly a Top-3 team. 

The rest of the conference is a wild card. The Thunder, Mavericks, Jazz, and Grizzlies. Any of these teams could finish top four, but they could also finish out of the playoffs. How and where they finish all depends on if they remember to tuck in there jerseys any time they play CP3.

As for the Rockets, they lost their luster. During the pandemic, the CDC recommended against facial hair. To cover his bases and stay safe, James Harden did the unthinkable. He shaved his beard. 

Now clean-shaven, he was no longer intimidating. He could no longer hide behind his beard. Russell Westbrook became the alpha, and Harden just became a run of the mill spot-up shooter. 

The season played out as many expected. The Blazers started slow out of the gate as they tried to figure out lineups and build some chemistry. Anthony and Whiteside had never played with Nurkic before, and for all intents and purposes had never played with Collins. It was like adding two new free agents to the mix. 

Come mid-December, the Blazers were starting to put it all together and found themselves in the Top-8 out west. Then they got reinforcements. Rodney Hood was finally ready to return. 

He started as a bench player behind Ariza, playing on a minutes restriction, but quickly rounded into form and earned his starting spot back. 

By mid-January, the Blazers starting lineup was Lillard - McCollum - Hood - Collins - Nurkic, with a bench rotation of Simons - Trent Jr - Ariza - Anthony - Whiteside. That is a championship-caliber roster, and they went into All-Star break as a Top 5 team in the West.

Speaking of All-Star break, the Blazers had three, yes THREE, representatives at the game. Lillard, Nurkic, and McCollum 

Nurkic was having the best year of his career, and behind Jokic was the best center in the west. McCollum was also having one of the best years of his career and grabbed the vacant spot left by James Harden. 

You see, baby-faced Harden suddenly started getting called for traveling and wasn't being sent to line anymore. Without the beard he was nothing. He would later decide to grow the beard back out, but it wouldn't be ready until 2022. The Rockets were sent to the lottery while they waited.

Flash forward to the end of the season, the Blazers ended strong and finished behind the Clippers and just ahead of the Nuggets. Oh, wait, what about the Warriors? The entire league forgot about Klay Thompson and Steph Curry returning. This wasn't the Eric Paschall show anymore...

With Steph, Klay, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins and first overall pick and rookie of the year Anthony Edwards, the Warriors were once again unstoppable. And for some reason, no one noticed. 

Final Western Conference Standings:

1) Warriors
2) Clippers
3) Blazers
4) Nuggets
5) Jazz
6) Thunder
7) Mavericks
8) Lakers

FIRST ROUND: BLAZERS VS THUNDER

The Blazers matched up with the Thunder in Round 1. Ironically, this Thunder roster, led by Chris Paul, was made as a direct result of what happend the last time these two played in the playoffs. The Bad Shot. 

There were no bad shots this time around, only good ones, and the Blazers swept the Thunder. 

The rest of the field:
1) Warriors over 8) Lakers: 4-2
Over the season LeBron swore off tacos, and got back in shape. But, it wasn't until late in the season that he was the LeBron we had come to know. The King was ready, and so were the Lakers. Unfortunately, they had to meet up with the Warriors. Golden State was LeBron's kryptonite for years, and it didn't change with him in a Lakers uniform. The Warriors were back...

7) Mavericks over 2) Clippers: 4-3
This was, by far, the best series in the first round. Every game was decided by single digits, with Game 7 being won on a Luka Donic buzzer-beater. 

4) Nuggets over 5) Jazz: 4-2
Two boring teams put on a boring series, and boring Jokic averaged the most boring triple-double and tore the boring Jazz apart in the most boring way. 

SECOND ROUND: BLAZERS VS NUGGETS

The last time the Blazers made it to the second round they played the very same Denver Nuggets. They beat the Nuggets in seven games in 2019, but things are different this time around. In 2019 they didn't have Melo, Whiteside, and most importantly they didn't have a healthy Jusuf Nurkic. With a full complement of weapons, the Blazers went to battle with the Nuggets. 
The Blazers defense was able to hold Jokic to only double-doubles in round two, but he still helped the Nuggets put up a fight. But in the end, the Blazers depth was too much and Nurkic wished the team from the Mile High City a "happy summer" after his 20-20 game sealed the deal in Game 6. 

Rest of the field:
1) Warriors over 7) Mavericks: 4-1
The ol' gentleman's sweep. The Mavericks didn't go down without a fight, but Donic and Co. just ran out of gas after that grueling seven-game series against the Clippers. One thing is for certain, the Mavericks will be a force for years to come, 2021 just wasn't their year. 
Curry and the Warriors shimmy into the Western Conference Finals. 

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: BLAZERS VS WARRIORS
Déjà vu or what? In 2019, the Blazers beat the Thunder in the first round, Nuggets in the second round, and met the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. 

The Blazers were swept that season, but no one would forget the magical performance of Meyers Leonard in Game 4. The Blazers reserve center got the start that night and went off for a career-high 30 points. 

After a season filled mostly with DNPs, it was time for the Hammer to do his thing. Coach Stotts tinkered with his lineup, moving Melo to backup SF  in an effort to get Leonard minutes. 

The move proved to be the x-factor. 

Every Curry bomb was matched by Lillard. 
Every Thompson trey was matched by 3J. 
Every Wiggins bucket was matched by Nurkic. 
Every Green brick was countered by a Leonard swish. 

The extra firepower was the difference, and just like he did in Game 4 in 2019, Leonard found his groove. 

It took six games, but the Blazers finally got over the Golden State hump. For the first time since 1992, the Blazers were heading to the finals. 

THE NBA FINALS.  BLAZERS VS ???? 

The Blazers flew across the country for Game 1 against the (checks notes)... Philadelphia 76ers! It was like 1977 all over again, and the series played out like an epic remake of a classic movie. 

The 76ers jumped out to a 2-0 series lead and had the Blazers on wobbly legs. 

But, Game 3 in 2021 started like Game 2 ended in 1977. 

Zach Collins and Ben Simmons both went up for a rebound late in the first quarter, but became tangled up and wrestled to the floor. They both jumped up, fists clenched ready to fight. The benches started to clear. Surprisingly, Joel Embiid elected to stay out of it and remained calm away from the fight. And before anyone could get in to separate the two, Trevor Ariza came flying in. Ariza, playing the role of Maurice Lucas, came in and gave Simmons a Goldberg-esque spear to the floor. 

Ariza was ejected and suspended for Games 4 and 5, but the message was sent loud and clear: Portland wasn't going down without a fight. 

Immediately following the fight the Blazers went of a game-deciding run and never looked back. The Blazers won Games 3, 4, and 5, and in a perfect storybook ending Ariza returned in Game 6 only to hit the series-clinching bucket as time expired. 

Fans rushed the court as Mark Mason yelled the loudest "Blazers win" of all time. Damian Lillard came over, grabbed the mic and yelled "RIP CITTTTTYYYYY."  

On TV you heard the epic call, "And the Blazers win the series for the first time in 44 years."

Rip City was ready to party like it was 1977. 

Luckily for those watching at home, they got to see the full celebration. There was no cutting to the Kemper Open!

The next morning was one giant party in Portland. 

Lillard and Co. boarded the parade bus and went around the city to celebrate with the hundreds of thousands of fans in the streets. 

They started at VMC, went over the Broadway Bridge, all the way down Broadway, found their way onto the 405,  crossed over the Marquam Bridge, up I-5 North, eventually ending with an extravagant rally inside Moda Center. 

It was an event 44 years in the making. 

A long wait worth every second. 

Will it happen in 2021? Only time will tell. 

How to Watch: Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets 2019 NBA Playoffs 4OT game at 6pm

How to Watch: Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets 2019 NBA Playoffs 4OT game at 6pm

It seems like just yesterday… Or, maybe it seems like forever ago. Not sure.

But let’s rewind to May 3rd, 2019 to an historic quadruple-overtime game in Portland.

It was Game 3 of the 2019 Western Conference Semifinals, and it was the ultimate, or we should say extremely long, showdown between the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets.

Portland had already defeated Oklahoma City in five games in the First Round thanks to Damian Lillard’s 50-point performance and the emphasis ‘wave’ shot.

Now with the series tied 1-1 heading into Game 3 against the Nuggets, nobody expected them to play 68 minutes of basketball.

To say these two teams left it all out on the floor that night would be an understatement.

With CJ McCollum taking over late in the game and Rodney Hood coming up big in the fourth quarter and the final overtime, the Blazers took the series lead, 2-1.

Hood hit a pull-up jumper to tie the game at 133 with just over a minute left in the fourth and final OT. And then it was Hood again. This time, his 25-foot 3-pointer gave Portland a 138-136 lead as time was winding down.

"Rodney Hood [had] a huge impact on the game, and they went to him," Nuggets head coach Mike Malone said postgame.

As for McCollum, he had Moda Center rocking after throwing down a dunk that put the Blazers up 89-83 with 7:57 remaining in the game.

The Blazers also got a nice lift from Maurice Harkless, who had been playing with a right ankle sprain. Harkless came up with a clutch three-pointer and driving lay-up in the final minutes of the game.

McCollum's hot shooting continued into the four extra periods. He hit five straight points to put the Blazers up 107-104 with 3:06 to go in OT.  The buckets didn't stop there. McCollum had seven points in the third overtime. He finished with 41 points.

The dogfight of this game and this entire series earns Game 3 of the Blazers and Nuggets 2019 West Semis matchup as one of our 'Trail Blazers Classic Games.'

Starters for Game 3:

Denver

Jamal Murray

Gary Harris

Paul Millsap

Torrey Craig

Nikola Jokic

Portland

Damian Lillard

CJ McCollum

Al-Farouq Aminu

Maurice Harkless

Enes Kanter

HOW TO WATCH Blazers vs. Nuggets GAME 3 2019  

WHEN: Tuesday, March 24th at 6pm

Channel: NBC Sports Northwest, Channel 737 (Portland), 617 (Seattle)

CHANNEL FINDER

Stream the game here

NBC Sports Northwest is airing 12 Trail Blazers Classic Games over the next few weeks.

The full schedule can be found here

How trades in the Western Conference affect Trail Blazers playoff chances

usatsi_13636618.jpg
USA Today Images

How trades in the Western Conference affect Trail Blazers playoff chances

Now that the NBA trade deadline has come and gone, let’s assess the West.

There was plenty of movement in the Western Conference in the last two days.

With the Trail Blazers making a deal with the Atalanta Hawks that sent big man Skal Labbisiere to Atlanta, the Hawks will be saving the Trail Blazers $2.8 million in luxury tax. 

In the deal, the Trail Blazers will also receive a protected second round pick in 2024 from Atlanta and a $2.4M trade exception. 

Heading into Thursday's trade deadline, the Trail Blazers were $11.3 million over the cap, with a tax luxury payment of close to $20 million. 

But, after Thursday's deal with Atlanta and the January 18th move that sent Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver for Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyan Gabriel from Sacramento, Portland now sits just over $4 million over the cap, with a luxury tax bill of $5.9 million.

But, how do the rest of the West’s deals affect Portland?

Here’s a quick breakdown…

Since the San Antonio Spurs are currently one of the teams, just like Portland, on the verge of making the playoffs, could it mean that they are not looking to make the postseason since they didn’t make a move?

Possibly. 

The Spurs and Thunder are two teams out West that did not make any moves by the deadline, which is surprising considering San Antonio sits in the 10th spot and OKC is barely holding onto the sixth spot. The Thunder were rumored to be sellers at the trade deadline and eventually fall out of the playoff picture. They reportedly tried to get a multi-team deal done with the Heat that included Danilo Gallinari, but things fell through. 

Now, Portland must contend with an OKC Thunder team that stayed pat at the deadline. 

Portland is three games back of the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

 

The bad news for the Blazers? The Grizzlies were making moves. A lot of them. Memphis was involved in a three-team trade where they received Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and Gorgui Dieng.

Winslow has been dealing with various injuries, but can definitely help the young Memphis roster that has already proven to be better than most expected. At least this soon anyway. Winslow is averaging 11.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

They're not expected to keep Dion Waiters, who has been a consistent disruption in the locker room. 

Memphis also made another move Thursday, acquiring former Oregon Ducks Jordan Bell from the Rockets in exchange for Bruno Caboclo.

With their moves, the Grizzlies get some help at the forward spot as they continue to solidify their playoff position.

As for the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves trade, this will affect the Blazers more so next season.

Since it seems these two teams are looking to the future and not worried about this season, the Warriors get some much needed frontcourt help and the Timberwolves get some much needed backcourt help. Golden State trading D'Angelo Russell to Minnesota for a deal that includes Andrew Wiggins, a 2021 protected first-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick, makes complete sense considering each teams needs with their current roster makeup.

So, as Portland worked to cut down it’s luxury tax, they will continue to push for that playoff spot with their current roster. But lest we forget, Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are both set to return before the postseason.

And, the Trail Blazers have looked like a team that has found a groove with their current roster of adding Trevor Ariza and Caleb Swanigan into the mix, minus Tuesday’ loss at Denver.

For now, it’s about trying to beat out the Grizzlies and Spurs or any other team on the fringe in the West. With the trade deadline now behind us, it will be interesting to see if any of the bubble playoff teams in the Western Conference decide to go a different direction and not make a final push for the postseason.

Because, as long Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are playing, there is no doubt they will do everything in their power to get to the postseason.   

Trail Blazers go ice cold in Denver, forced to "regroup"

Trail Blazers go ice cold in Denver, forced to "regroup"

DENVER – The Trail Blazers put themselves in a hole a mile deep in the Mile High in Tuesday night's 127-99 loss to the Denver Nuggets and they were never able to climb out of it.

They scored just 10 points in the second quarter, making an uphill battle an uphill mountain.

To say the Blazers were having an off night would be an understatement.

Players talk all the time about how it’s never easy to play in altitude. Plus, going up against a team that was 19-6 at home coming into Tuesday’s game will always be challenging.

But, really, what it came down to was that doomed second quarter for the Blazers. 

Nuggets head coach Mike Malone was beaming after the game when he discussed how his team held the Blazers to just 10 points.

“I think we held them to 20 percent in that second quarter. We just had a fly-around mentality. We watched clips at halftime, and usually it’s 'clean up' clips or things that we have to work on, but we had three clips at halftime and I was showing them all the positive we were doing. Positive reinforcement -- guys being in the right place. Even when it wasn’t right, the mentality to fly around and have a multiple effort mindset allowed us to get back and make the right plays,” Coach Malone said postgame.

Outside the visiting locker room, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was quick to point the finger at his own team.

“The second quarter was rough offensively, obviously we didn’t shoot the ball well,” Stotts said.

But, coach Stotts did also give credit to the Nuggets defense, adding, “They pressured Dame [Lillard] and Dame didn’t play the first three, four, or five minutes of the second quarter, but they’re a good defensive team. We had some good looks that could’ve changed the momentum of that quarter as well.”

In the loss, Damian Lillard cooled off after averaging over 40 points per game in the last two weeks. Lillard finished with 21 points on 8-of-23 shooting.  

The Trail Blazers team captain thought it was a mix between the Nuggets defending well and the Blazers just missing shots.

“Looking back at it, I remember a fair amount of really good looks that we got, we just didn’t make," Lillard said. "I think it was also a bit of them too, the energy and aggressiveness they had. If you score 10 points in a quarter, you’re not going to have a great shot [at winning]."

While CJ McCollum, who added 20 points in the loss, admitted making just five field goals in a quarter is something that they need to regroup and move on.

[It's] been awhile since we had a game like that. You’ve got to take the good with the bad, move forward, regroup, and get ready for San Antonio on Thursday. – Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum said postgame

The Blazers weren’t only pointing the finger at the second quarter, though.

Denver ended up shooting 51.1 percent for the game from the field and 50 percent from deep.

Lillard knows that the Blazers' defense is what really cost them early on.

“I thought we didn’t communicate very well defensively,” Lillard said. “We just weren’t very sharp on that end. They were passing the ball well, making their shots, getting open shots. On our part --miscommunication and us not executing our defensive game plan and them scoring pretty much every time, we had to play against their half court offense and that was tough.”

The Blazers will have to get over this loss quickly as the San Antonio Spurs come to Portland Thursday night.

The Spurs and the Blazers are in the same boat: Battling for a playoff spot. 

McCollum called Thursday’s matchup, “A huge game.”

"It will be crucial for us down the stretch of the season and could decide our fate.” 

Nassir Little gives update on left ankle sprain

Nassir Little gives update on left ankle sprain

DENVER – On a night where the Denver Nuggets biggest lead was 34 points, the Trail Blazers lost another frontcourt player to an injury with less than 40 seconds remaining on the clock.  

The Trail Blazers training staff and teammate Jusuf Nurkic helped Little off the court. He was not able to put any weight on his left leg initially, and was helped to the locker room.

The Blazers are calling it a left ankle sprain.

The good news: X-rays on Little’s ankle came back negative.

After the game, Little explained what happened on the play:

“I was just trying to contest a shot and [Vlatko Cancar’s] leg kicked back and I just stepped on it, and I twisted it.”

The Blazers rookie also added that he tweaked his ankle at shootaround in the morning. But, he didn’t think it was that bad, so he decided to play despite his ankle not being 100 percent.

“Probably going to put some compression on it, and go to the gym tomorrow, do some rehab and try to work it out," Little said.

Before suffering the injury, Little played 19 minutes while scoring six points and pulling down five rebounds in the Blazers’ blowout loss to the Nuggets.

Little feels like the injury could've been a lot worse.

“It’s not that bad, I’m able to walk on it, so we’re going to see what’s up tomorrow,” Little said.

In 38 games played, Little has averaged 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. 

Little is hopeful to play Thursday against the Spurs after getting treatment on Wednesday.