Portland isn't in the playoffs (yet!) but we're seeing even more lessons that will be applicable once we start battling seriously in the post-season again. Two quickies from the last week or so:
1. These are seven-game series, not two-game series. As is increasingly typical of fans and media in the modern age a ton of folks are all-too-willing to anoint any minor trend as universal truth. When the L*kers and Hornets got up 2-0 it was a foregone conclusion that they would be featured in the Western Conference Finals. Not so fast. Now granted, that exact matchup is still likely, but it's now a three-game sprint in both cases. The Hornets are playing the defending champions and this decade's dynasty team. Even should they win, it was too early to count the Spurs out. The young Blazers (and their fans) would do well to take this lesson to heart. Whatever our first breakthrough series win ends up being, it's likely to be against an established team. It takes four wins to beat them, not just a couple in a row at home.
2. This is a physical sport. We talked about this on and off during the regular season but you're starting to see the real importance now with all of the flagrant fouls and star-mauling. The Blazers will be stylish, skilled, and oh-so-easy to root for. But unless they have the physical mindset they're going to get clobbered. This doesn't necessarily mean the Blazers themselves have to thug it up. We don't need a bench full of goons. We do, however, need the ability to take a punch and remain standing. It's absolutely, positively guaranteed that another team is going to push us hard in a seven-game series to see if we'll get distracted or break. The sooner we show that doesn't faze us the easier it'll be to get past it and start playing basketball.
I'm sure there will be more...