Scoop Journal: April 23rd – a night we won’t ever forget

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NBC Sports Northwest

Scoop Journal: April 23rd – a night we won’t ever forget

Welcome to The Scoop Journal, where every week I empty my notebook of wide ranging Trail Blazer thoughts, observations, and randomness. I hope you enjoy this light-hearted weekly blog...

April 25, 2019

Dear Scoop Journal,

I started jotting down my random Trail Blazers notes in my Scoop Journal at the beginning of the 2018-19 season and now here we are in late April and the season is not over.

It’s really just beginning… At least that’s the feeling around Portland. 

Now that I have had a couple of days to digest what went down at Moda Center on Tuesday night, April 23, with Damian Lillard having arguably the best performance of his career after dropping 50 points and hitting an insane, 37-foot three-pointer to clinch the series over the Thunder, I think it’s time to write in my journal again.

My latest Rip City thoughts as the Blazers advance to the Western Conference semifinals for the 12th time in franchise history and the first time since 2016:

*THIS JOURNAL ENTERY is going to be one I will look back on fondly and often!

*My initial thought when Lillard rose up and fired over Paul George as time was expiring was – OHH MY GOD, are you kidding me!? And then… the celebration in Moda Center began!  

*The Trail Blazers dogpile celebration was also one for the ages.

*These were some of favorite postgame quotes from Dame:

“That was the last word. I was having the last word.”

“I thought this was a comfortable range”

*And then there was this gem from CJ McCollum:

“I didn’t know he was going to raise (up) from 40. I was like ‘Go! Go!’ Then he raised from 40 and I was like 'That’s a bad ... you know what I said.”

* There have been a total of six walk-off, series-winning buzzer beaters in NBA history. Damian Lillard and Michael Jordan are the only two players with multiple ones. YEP… NO BIG DEAL.

*It was fun listening to all the different radio and TV calls from around the world. Kevin Calabro and Brian Wheeler both had phenomenal calls on the game winner, but I also have to give it up to the Korean radio call too --- “Dame Time!!!!”

*I don’t think Rip City will ever forget the Thunder’s antics and the “next question” feud between Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel or the fact that Paul George called Lillard’s game-winner a “bad shot.”

*It was an extra special night on Tuesday with Jusuf Nurkic making his first appearance at Moda Center since his leg injury. I believe wholeheartedly that he was the good luck charm the Blazers needed in the final minutes of that game.

*Now, we wait and see.

*The Blazers will either face the No. 2 Denver Nuggets or the No. 7 San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals. The Nuggets lead that first-round series 3-2, with Game 6 set for Thursday night in San Antonio.

*Time now to focus on Round Two!

Stay ahead of your Trail Blazers and get all you need to know this postseason. Get LIVE Trail Blazers coverage, in-depth articles, podcast, videos and more.  All you have to do is download the app,  log-in and the Blazers are at your fingertips. Download Now!
 

Damian Lillard on Paul George's 'bad shot' comment: He's "kind of being a poor sport...If anything, it was bad defense"

Damian Lillard on Paul George's 'bad shot' comment: He's "kind of being a poor sport...If anything, it was bad defense"

Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard has ice in his veins. Lillard’s buzzer-beating, 37-foot 3-pointer over Paul George that sent the Thunder packing has been all the talk around the NBA in the last two days.

George didn’t think it was a good shot, though.

"That's a bad shot,” George said postgame. “I don't care what anybody says. That's a bad shot. But, hey, he made it. That story won't be told, that it's a bad shot. You live with that."

On this week’s ‘Pull Up Podcast,’ hosted by Trail Blazer shooting guard CJ McCollum, Lillard joined the podcast to respond to George’s comments:

“It was a good shot.

I think a lot of people don’t know what goes into the moments. That’s because they’re not the ones that’s there. I literally work on those shots. And I don’t work on it so I can just come out and just shoot it for the whole game. I work on it just because, over my career, I know how much attention I’m going to get from defenses.

So it’s just like you’re just keeping stuff, adding more things, adding more and more, keeping stuff in your pocket, in case these types of situations do present itself. Even if it’s not something you want to lean on, it’s something that you have there, that you worked on, you spent time doing. So, you’ve got confidence in it when the time does come. That’s why, when I was just standing there, I was like, well, it’s probably not good in a lot of people’s eyes.

But I’m comfortable with this, and I’m confident in this. So, to me, it’s a solid shot.”

Lillard also added that George was, “just kind of being a poor sport” after the loss:

“For him to say that’s a bad shot, that’s just kind of being a poor sport. If anything, it was bad defense, because I had the ball in my hands with two seconds, and I wasn’t going to drive, so maybe he should’ve just bodied up.”

One thing is certain -- Lillard is built for these moments and Rip City is still rejoicing in the “good shot” heard around the world.

You can listen to the full ‘Pull Up Podcast’ right here.

Stay ahead of your Trail Blazers and get all you need to know this postseason. Get LIVE Trail Blazers coverage, in-depth articles, podcast, videos and more.  All you have to do is download the app,  log-in and the Blazers are at your fingertips. Download Now!
 

Outsiders Blog: Will it be the Spurs or will it be the Nuggets

Outsiders Blog: Will it be the Spurs or will it be the Nuggets

On Tuesday night Damian Lillard drilled an improbable 37-foot step back jumper over Paul George to give the Trail Blazers the walk-off victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

It was a game winner. It was a series clincher. It was the thing movies are made of. In a series where Oklahoma City's rallying cry seemed to be "next question," they really should have been worrying about Lillard's next shot. 

"The Shot," as it will probably go down in Blazers lore, sent Oklahoma City home and sent Portland to the second round. Now the "next question" on everyone's mind is, who will the Blazers play? Will it be the Denver Nuggets or the San Antonio Spurs? We could know as soon as Thursday night. 

Denver leads the series 3-2, with Game 6 in San Antonio. You know the drill - Denver wins, they move on. San Antonio wins and we have a winner take all Game 7. 

So who do you want the Blazers to play? Each team has its advantages and disadvantages. 

Denver: The Blazers lost the season series to the Nuggets, 3-1. However, the Nuggets' three wins came by a combined total of just 13 points. That's just 4.3 points per game. Get a few extra spots, hit a couple extra buckets, and the Blazers win those games.  With no Nurkic, Denver's Nikola Jokic will be a major problem. He is a triple-double threat any time he takes the court. Can the Blazers subdue Jokic and take the Nuggets down, I think they can. But it will be one tall task. 

San Antonio: The Blazers split the season series with the Spurs, 2-2. San Antonio has played well in this series against the Nuggets, but winning it in seven would certainly be an upset. The Spurs could have been up 3-0, but they let Game 2 slip away, then the Nugget blew the doors off in both games four and five. San Antonio can be an up and down squad. If they're up, they can beat almost anyone. If they're down, they can lose to anyone. The Blazers match up very well with the Spurs, making this a favorable series for Portland.

Verdict: Give me the Spurs. First, the storyline of LaMarcus Aldridge versus the Trail Blazers in the playoffs is fantastic theater by itself. But the reality is the Blazers are a much better team than the Spurs. I just don't know if DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge can outplay and outscore Lillard and CJ McCollum over a seven-game series. Throw in the fact that Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless are playing their best ball of the season, and I think the Blazers are easily favored to beat San Antonio. I think the Nuggets are beatable too, but the Spurs would be better odds. But let's be real, real honest. It doesn't matter who the Blazers play. After two straight first-round sweeps getting a taste of the second round again is oh so sweet. 

Bring on the Spurs.
Bring on the Nuggets. 
Bring on the second round.

Stay ahead of your Trail Blazers and get all you need to know this postseason. Get LIVE Trail Blazers coverage, in-depth articles, podcast, videos and more.  All you have to do is download the app,  log-in and the Blazers are at your fingertips. Download Now!
 

As Damian Lillard takes questions, Russell Westbrook is left searching for answers

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USA Today Images

As Damian Lillard takes questions, Russell Westbrook is left searching for answers

Damian Lillard has become one of the most lethal players in the NBA.

According to NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh, Lillard generated the fifth-most wins in the NBA while the Portland Trail Blazers are the third-most efficient offense in the league.

On Tuesday night, Lillard, in the 45th minute, delivered a legendary 37-foot three-pointer over Oklahoma City’s Paul George that proved when there’s nothing left in the tank, Lillard’s ready. The game-winning shot sealed the deal for Portland, who is on its way to the second round of the NBA Playoffs.

While Lillard was drilling shots and dropping 30-footers, the Thunder seemed puzzled on how to defend Mr. Unguardable. This used to be the way people would talk about Russell Westbrook, but according to Haberstroh, the tides have changed.

Here’s a few takeaways from Haberstroh’s latest article: How Dame Lillard and the rest of the NBA left Russell Westbrook behind

On Westbrook’s performance in the Blazers-Thunder series:

In this series, Westbrook struggled to get to the rack and finish at a high level. He missed over half his layups, making just 48.8 percent of his shots at the rim (league average is about 60 percent). Westbrook finished with zero dunks in the series and his transition efficiency ranked dead-last among players with at least 20 transition plays, per NBA.com tracking. Normally, we could chalk that up to small sample size, but Westbrook ranked last in transition efficiency in the regular season among the 27 players with at least 250 transition plays. This is more than a blip.

On what’s changed in Westbrook:

He’s dunking less, getting to the foul line less and missing more layups than he makes. These are all the markings of a player either in decline or in the wrong era, perhaps both. George’s arrival was supposed to weed out Westbrook’s most inefficient shots and make him more effective. But the opposite has happened: George’s efficient shot has only made Westbrook’s weaknesses more glaring.

On how Lillard and Westbrook differ:

Lillard doesn’t overwhelm with his size. In fact, he was equally inefficient at the rim as Westbrook, shooting 47.4 percent on his 38 attempts in the restricted area. But Lillard has a counter.

The difference is that Lillard has put in long hours behind closed doors and developed a knockdown jumper in case he can’t get to the rim as easily as he used to. In this series, Lillard made 48.1 percent of his 3-pointers and was a mind-numbing 10-of-15 from 28 feet and beyond. It’s something you can’t readily defend, as George found out the hard way.

Lillard was facing a nearly impossible task there in the closing seconds: Find a good shot against George. These moments are extremely difficult to begin with. Potential go-ahead shots in the final 10 seconds in the last give postseasons have gone in only 26 percent of the time (17-of-64), according to data from Basketball Reference. That was the baseline from which Lillard was working. Out of nowhere, he created a shot he has made nearly 40 percent this season.

On Lillard ushering in a new generation of players shooting from 30-foot-plus:

Lillard’s long-range jumper serves like David’s slingshot in a game of goliaths. With diminutive ball-handlers like Lillard, Trae Young and Stephen Curry bombing away from deep, it’s easy to see how this might be the future of the NBA. This season, a record-breaking total of 1,008 shots were taken from 30 to 40 feet, up from 860 from last season and nearly double the total of 525 from 2016-17, per Basketball Reference. 

Read full story here

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NBA players react to Dame's insane game-winner

NBA players react to Dame's insane game-winner

The year was 2014. There were 0.9 seconds left on the clock. Damian Lillard caught the inbounds pass, lifted up, and drained the improbable game-winner over an outstretched Chandler Parsons to send Houston home.

A lot has changed since then, yet much remains the same...

The year was 2019. There were two seconds left on the clock. Damian Lillard dribbled to his right, stepped back, lifted up, and drained the improbable 37-foot game-winner over an outstretched Paul George to send Oklahoma City home. 

With all that has changed, one thing is still certain: Damian Lillard has ice running through his veins. 

As expected with a shot like that, social media blew up. But it wasn't just the Rip City faithful that were amazed. Lillard's NBA counterparts were just as blown away... 

It wasn't just players from around the NBA that chimed in. Lillard's teammates, both past and present were amazed as well...

And before we leave, let's not forget about ol' Chandler Parsons, the man that Lillard hit that 0.9 shot over...

 

Enes Kanter plays through shoulder pain in Game 5

Enes Kanter plays through shoulder pain in Game 5

Trail Blazers starting center Enes Kanter suffered a separated shoulder following a hard hit with Thunder big man Steven Adams, but Kanter played through the pain. The injury happened in the first quarter of the Trail Blazers 118-115 thrilling victory over the Thunder.

Kanter’s left arm was in a giant sling and wrapped when he spoke with the media after the game.

“At halftime we did an injection, so I just tried to play through it,” Kanter said postgame.

Kanter finished the game with 13 points and 13 rebounds while also playing through quad pain as well.

The good news for the Blazers big man is he will now get a few days to rest up while the Nuggets and Spurs finish up their series. Denver currently holds a 3-2 lead. Game 6 is set for Thursday night.

Lillard waves goodbye to the Thunder with 37-foot buzzer beater

Lillard waves goodbye to the Thunder with 37-foot buzzer beater

The fans were going one step beyond delirious. It felt as if the entire Moda Center was shaking. Damian Lillard’s mother was dancing wildly on the sidelines. Trail Blazer players were staring at each other in awe with that “Did you see what he just did?” look on their faces.

Kevin McHale, doing analysis Tuesday night on the TNT telecast, uncoiled his 6-11 frame from behind a desk on the side of the court and shook his head.

Did that look familiar to you, Kevin?

“Well,” he said with a broad smile, “it’s a lot more entertaining to watch him do it than to have him do it to you.”

McHale was the coach of the Houston Rockets on May 2, 2014, when Damian Lillard sent McHale’s team home with a buzzer-beating three-point jump shot after catching an in-bounds pass with .9 second to go in the game.

But what he saw Tuesday night was even more miraculous. Incredible. Unbelievable – you pick your own adjective.

Lillard dribbled most of the final 18.4 seconds of a tie game down to tenths before firing up what was officially called a 37-foot pullup jump shot over Oklahoma City’s Paul George, one of the best defenders in basketball.

And of course, as you know by now, with the game and series on the line, the ball went in – setting off an on-court pig pile of teammates, who happily buried their captain under a mountain of sheer joy.

Asked about the distance and nature of the shot, most of the Trail Blazers estimated around 40 feet.

And most of them also commented on the sheer intestinal fortitude it took even to attempt the shot with the game on the line.

The word “balls” was used in connection with that.

And by the way, those three points gave Lillard 50 for the night and capped a wild Portland comeback that saw the home team rally from a 105-90 deficit with 7:45 to go in the game and 113-105 with 3:55 left.

There were so many things that happened down the stretch. Seth Curry stole the ball from George, CJ McCollum hit a pullup jumper and a floating bank shot, Maurice Harkless made a couple of free throws, Al-Farouq Aminu had a big rebound off a Russell Westbrook miss, Lillard hit a reverse layup – but, of course, it all came down to Lillard at the end.

With a tie game, the Blazers didn’t exactly need a three-point shot. Any old point would close out the series.

But Lillard was in his comfort zone as he dribbled the clock down.

“I didn’t want to put it in the referee’s hands, where it was contact and maybe they get away with contact or I end up having to take a tougher shot because there’s contact and (the referees) don’t want to decide the game,” he said. “So I was standing there looking at the rim and I was like, this is a comfortable range.

“My trainer, Phil Beckner, we were working out the other night in OKC and he was like, ‘just take a few deep ones off the dribble. Let’s shoot a few deep ones.’ He was like, ‘I’m telling you, you’re going to hit one of these.’

“When I was standing there, I was like, ‘I’m going to, shoot it.'

“I just had to let it fly, shoot the ball high in the air to give it a chance and that’s what I did.”

And there was one last parting shot after that.

Not with the basketball, though. Lillard, who had to take trash talk from Westbrook and Dennis Schroder throughout the five-game series, waved at the Thunder bench.

“I mean, the series was over,” Lillard said. “That was it. I was just waving goodbye to them. I think after Game Three, Dennis Schroder was out there pointing to his wrist. They were out there doing all these celebrations and doing all this stuff and we kept our composure. After one win, that was what they decided to do and we were like, OK, what we want to do is win four games.

“When we win those four games, there’s not going to be nothing to talk about.

“So that’s what it was.”

Lillard’s 50 were a franchise playoff record and he is the first player in NBA history to score 50-plus points and make a game-winning buzzer beater in the same playoff game. His 10 three-pointers mark the second-most threes in a playoff game in league history, just one behind Klay Thompson’s 11 in 2016.

The Blazers, who closed the game on a 26-8 run, move on to a second-round series against the winner of the Denver-San Antonio series, which the Nuggets lead 3-2.

Enes Kanter, who played much of the game with what he believes may be a separated shoulder, marveled at Lillard’s performance.

“Not just that shot, but the whole series,” he said. “He did an amazing job. He kept his coolness and stayed calm.

“That’s what a great leader does. He made himself better and he made everyone better around him. When the shot left his hand, I was like, ‘You know what, that’s going in,’ because we all believe in him.”

It was a special night nobody there will ever forget, especially the Thunder, I would guess.

“I mean, it was a bad shot,” George grumbled. “I don’t care what anybody says, that’s a bad shot.”

Maybe for you. Maybe for anyone else on the planet. But on this night, it was a great shot for Damian Lillard.

And as his coach, Terry Stotts, said, “The legend grows.”

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Jusuf Nurkic couldn’t watch Game 5 from his house any longer and he showed up just in time

Jusuf Nurkic couldn’t watch Game 5 from his house any longer and he showed up just in time

The Trail Blazers 2018-19 season has been emotional, to say the least.

Perhaps the most gut-wrenching moment was when Portland lost Jusuf Nurkic to a season-ending leg injury on March 26th.

The Blazers big man was averaging career-highs of 15.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and one steal to go along with 1.4 blocks.

A career-season ended too quickly.

But Nurkic was determined to not let his team’s season end prematurely too. 

No, it was not do-or-die for the Blazers on Tuesday night as Portland held a 3-1 lead in the series over the Thunder, but for Nurk he was eager for his teammates to take care of business at home.

That’s why the big fella drove himself to Moda Center during the third quarter to show up for his team when they needed him the most.

“It meant a lot. I had seen him earlier today; he was at the practice facility. He was getting a lift in and some rehab. I was like, 'when you gonna come to a game?’  He was like, ‘I’m not ready yet,’ so, when I looked and saw him I was like, man it must’ve looked bad on TV for him to leave his house in the middle of third quarter and drive all the way out here,” CJ McCollum joked postgame.

With 3:28 remaining in the game, Nurkic made an appearance on the Trail Blazers bench.

Damian Lillard had been having a phenomenal game, with a franchise record 32 points in the first half, yet the Blazers trailed 113-105 when the Bosnian Beast showed up.

The jumbotron was quick to show Nurk’s presence on the bench.

Moda Center erupted.

“I was in pain watching the game,” Nurkic joked with Kevin Calabro and Lamar Hurd on the NBC Sports broadcast after the game. “By the end of the third quarter, I was like f*** it, excuse my French, I’m gonna go out there and show up and I knew if I showed up, we were going to win this game. I had zero doubt.”

Nurkic was right.

“Obviously I love this crowd and this city… I knew if I showed up, I was gonna make a difference,” Nurkic continued.     

But the question on the Blazers’ minds was -- how did Nurk’s stats finish up?

“I would love to see what his plus/minus was tonight,” Lillard said with a smile.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts also wanted to figure out what Nurkic’s plus/minus was for the final three minutes of play.

“We were down eight… So, plus 11… So, his plus/minus was really good. Honestly, you guys know it, you felt it in the building when they showed him on the big screen and the fact that he showed up, no one knew he was going to show up, honestly I think we fed off of that. I think there was a little good karma when he did show up,” Stotts said.

Enes Kanter, who played through a separated shoulder, summed up Nurk being on the bench by simply saying, “he’s our inspiration.”  

Nurkic had said during the regular season after the Blazers were swept by OKC, that he wished he would get to see the Thunder in the playoffs.

Tuesday night he got his wish in person and the Blazers knew they had to win this game for him, and for themselves, to not extend the series.

“When I seen him, I was like we really got to come together and get this done so we don’t have to go back to Oklahoma,” McCollum said.  

“I think they put a camera on him and the crowd went crazy. I heard it. So, he gave us a nice punch,” Lillard said.

The Bosnian Beast brought just enough “punch” to help his team get over the hump.

Lillard brought the knockout with his game winning three-pointer.

The Blazers now advance to the Western Conference semifinals for the 12th time in franchise history and the first time since 2016.

Nurkic, who often refers to Lillard as ‘Babo,’ which means ‘fatherly figure’ in Bosnian, was like a proud son watching his dad rise up on Paul George and knock down the ‘Logo’ three.

Babo had himself a game.

Nurkic saved the day, just in time. 

 

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Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5

What a finish in Portland.

The Portland Trail Blazers held a 3-1 series lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder coming into Game 5 on Tuesday night.  

Thunder forward Paul George told reporters at Tuesday morning’s shootaround that he believes his team can come back from a 3-1 deficit.

Oklahoma City was not messing around to start the game Tuesday. The Thunder came out aggressive and shooting well. Every time the Blazers would come back and go on a run, the Thunder would answer in the first half.

Really it was Damian Lillard who kept the Blazers in the game. Lillard set a franchise record in scoring in the first half. He continued his scoring in bunches in the second half. Lillard was determined to finish this series Tuesday. Despite the Thunder holding a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, Portland had the last word. Well, Lillard had the last word with a DEEP game winning three-pointer. The Blazers defeated Oklahoma City 118-115. It’s onto Round Two for the Blazers.  

Final Box Score: Trail Blazers 118, Thunder 115

Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers Game 5 victory:

1. OKC starts hot

Unlike in Game 1 and 2 in Portland, OKC started out hot from the field and from three. Midway through the first quarter, the Thunder were shooting over 80%. OKC made its first two three-pointers and ended the first quarter going 2-for-4 from long distance, while shooting 69.6% for the quarter.

Paul George was due for a game like he had on Tuesday. George was 9-of-11 midway through the third quarter with 24 points. He has been playing through shoulder pain the entire series and it was apparent he was not ready for his season to end. 

2. McCollum picks up quick fouls, Lillard picks up scoring

A big blow to the Blazers in the first quarter was CJ McCollum picking up three fouls with just over three minutes remaining in the first quarter.

With the Blazers starting shooting guard on the bench with three fouls…

Damian Lillard took over.

With 32 points in the half-- Damian Lillard now owns the Blazers record for most points in a half in a playoff game. Lillard finished the first half with 34 points on 12-of-18 shooting including 6-of-9 from three-point range.

Lillard played all 24 minutes in the first half. This showed Blazers head coach Terry Stotts is willing to keep the hot hand in the game and the Blazers wanted to close out the series REAL bad in five.

McCollum only played those first nine minutes. He did not play the entire second quarter. Besides Lillard, no other Blazer player had more than six points.

NBA fans know Lillard can easily take over games, but the Blazers were in need of more scoring in the second half. Lillard got some scoring help from Enes Kanter and Al-Farouq Aminu in the third quarter, but the Blazers weren’t getting enough scoring in the fourth and Russell Westbrook turned it up in the final quarter.

3. You’ve got to make your free throws

It was a back-and-forth game throughout. It wouldn’t have been as close if the Blazers were able to hit more from the charity stripe. Portland was 11-of-19 from the free throw line entering the final period. Maurice Harkless was just 1-for-6 from the line after three quarters. 

As Rip City Bill Schonely always says, you’ve got to make your free throws.

Harkless did make up for it in the final period though, hitting two clutch free throws to put the Blazers down two with 1:22 to go in the game.

NEXT UP: The Trail Blazers will now wait and see who comes out on top between the Nuggets and Spurs before meeting the winner of that series in the second round of the playoffs. The Nuggets currently lead the series 3-2. Game 6 between Denver and San Antonio is set for Thursday.  Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for OKC Thunder in Game 5

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for OKC Thunder in Game 5

The Portland Trail Blazers hold a 3-1 lead and now looking to close out their series against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night in Portland.

 

Portland is now looking to advance to the second round of the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2015-16 season.

 

Before tonight’s game both Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and Thunder head coach Billy Donovan addressed the media. 

 

Coach Stotts feels tonight’s game will be “very competitive," adding, “We are going to get Oklahoma City’s best shot.”

 

Stotts also discussed how much of an impact Blazers big man Enes Kanter has been since Jusuf Nurkic went down with a season-ending injury.

 

“Obviously when we got him we had Nurk and the role was backup center… What he has done since Nurk went down I don’t think anybody foresaw [what he’s been able to do]. He’s had a really good career to this point and he’s had his reputation as a really good rebounder, a really good scorer, but I think what he has done for us with his improved defense, with his passing out of the post, what a great teammate he is – I think in those areas he has probably exceeded what we were thinking,” Stotts said.

 

Hear from coach Stotts right here:

 

Coach Donovan feels that just because his team is down 3-1 on the road, they aren’t looking at it as though it’s going to be too difficult of a feat to come back and win the series.

 

“It’s not like it’s too overwhelming for them, I don’t feel that way at all,” Donovan said.

 

Donovan was asked how the Thunder could attack the basket and attack Kanter more in Game 5. OKC feels like they’ve done a good job getting Steven Adams involved on the offensive end.  

 

“Steven, I think at times, had opportunities around the basket, some post up situations or some dump offs. I think we’ve done a relatively good job. You’re not going to always score, but it may lead to something,” Donovan said.

 

Hear from coach Donovan right here:

 

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