That 11-game run the Trail Blazers made in the Orlando bubble that earned them a playoff berth was terrific. But, as Neil Olshey, Portland's president of basketball operations, said in our exclusive interview, it took its toll on the team.
First, it was the mental and emotional stress of having to play what amounted to a series of elimination games, with little margin for error. And then, of course, there were the injuries.
But Olshey wasn't looking for excuses, because that team put itself in the position of needing to win those games to reach the playoffs after its pre-hiatus performance. Oddsmakers gave Portland just a five percent chance of earning a playoff berth at the onset of the league's restart.
"The cumulative nature of the mental stress, the emotional stress, the injuries piling up, created a disadvantage for us," Olshey said. "But again, we put ourselves in that situation. We got out of it as best we could, but at the end of the day, playing nine playoff games, basically, prior to the Laker series, was just too much to overcome, to kind of hit the reset button."
That video accompanies this post.