Ice-cold Blazers look done
Stats don’t always tell the whole story. The names on your team roster don’t tell the whole story. The story is told in the unspoken, in the sweat, in the effort, in the focus, in the heart and fight shown in the low moments. The Golden State Warriors have showed yet again that they won’t panic when the tide is against them. In Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals the Portland Trail Blazers appeared to crumble in the face of the oncoming onslaught. Up 18 with the game in their hands the Blazers couldn’t find the composure required to maintain their large lead. It looked like they too were aware that the inevitable was on the horizon, it was the much-expected Warriors comeback. It came to pass and the rest is history. The Warriors won the game 110-99 and are now 3-0 up in the best of seven series and the writing is on wall.
It didn’t have to be like this. The Blazers had held their own and were getting some impressive production from the likes of Meyers Leonard, who was having an inspired game and Evan Turner who weighed in with points off the bench. Leonard started the game and his stats read 16 points, three rebounds and four assists, including 3-7 from beyond the arc. Turner played 17 minutes and scored 12 points, going 5-6 from the field also scoring the only three-pointer he took.
The key players for the Blazers yet again couldn’t ignite. Damian Lillard, who reportedly has been suffering from separated ribs, scored 19 points as he went 5-18 from the field and 3-9 from three-point range. It was again CJ McCollum who carried the scoring load as he led his team in scoring with 23 points. But he only shot 35 percent from field-goal territory, his stats made for painful reading, 7-20 from field-goal range and 2-10 from distance. For the other starters, Nigerian Al-Farouq Aminu only played 12 minutes as Terry Stotts made changes; he scored only two points but grabbed seven rebounds. Maurice Harkless, who has been giving the team a lift in recent games, scored six points, grabbed three boards, dished two assists, stole the ball twice and had two blocks. As a team the Blazers were held to 40 percent from the field and 31.4 percent from three-point range.
Looking at the stats you would think that the Blazers were wasteful, and they were. But a lot of their late game mishaps were caused by smothering defence from the Warriors with Draymond Green putting in a superb performance for his 20-point, 13-rebound and 12-assists triple-double. Green also recorded four steals and a block as he reigned supreme on the court at Moda Center. Steph Curry led all scorers with 36 points and Klay Thompson had 15 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks. The Warriors had contributions from pretty much the whole team as starters and bench players all made their minutes count.
No team has recovered from a 3-0 deficit at this stage of an NBA season and right now it doesn’t look like the Trail Blazers will buck that trend. But they could still salvage some pride in the upcoming contests. If they win Game 4 then they avoid the sweep and an embarrassing end to another promising season. If they win another game, this time on the road in Oakland, then it will soothe some of the hurts of this one-sided contest. But all of this only comes to fruition if Stotts, Lillard, McCollum and the rest of the Blazers find as yet unseen reserves of strength to overcome the monstrous Warriors. This series might spell the end for the Blazers as they currently exist with team owner Jody Allen and General Manager Neil Olshey perhaps forced to take a long look in the mirror. Players will come and go and tough calls will be made, but for the Blazers there is still time to straighten their backs and hold their heads up high. There is no shame in losing to this Warriors team, they are incredible, but the Blazers need to show up and prove that they deserve to be in this series. Bring on Game 4.