The 2014-15 season is in the rear-view mirror for the Portland Trail Blazers. It's time to look at the major events of the year and bring perspective to the whole.
Over the next two days the Blazer's Edge Staff will be recounting all the milestones and potholes the Blazers encountered between last October and now. We'll be bringing you a new post every hour between the start of the workday and dinner time. Come and relive these memories with us, sharing your perspective.
We begin with the outlook as the season began.
Technically speaking the Trail Blazers finished the 2013-14 season with a 54-28 record, ending their year with a 1-4 drubbing at the hands of the eventual World Champion San Antonio Spurs.
We say "technically" because nobody remembered any of that as the new season began. The only thing anybody could recall is recounted in Chapter 1 of the Gospel of Dame:
1 In the beginning was the Shot, and the Shot was with us, and the Shot was us. 2 It was with us in the beginning. 3 Through the Shot all things were made; without it nothing was made that has been made. 4 In the Shot was life, and that life was the light of all Blazerkind. 5 The shot shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from the basketball gods whose name was Dame. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that Shot, so that through him all might believe.
14 The Shot became flesh and made its dwelling among us. We have seen its glory, the glory of the one and only Shot, who came from the point guard, full of grace and truth.
If asked whether the Blazers won or lost in last year's playoffs, odds are that 50% or more of their fans would have said they won. Because of that one play the first-round victory against the Houston Rockets resonated far more than the second-round loss to the Spurs.
Portland's off-season moves had been modest: Chris Kaman brought on to supplement Robin Lopez at center, Steve Blake to back up Damian Lillard at point. With two steady veterans on board, each true to their given position, Blazers fans didn't worry about losing Mo Williams. If CJ McCollum couldn't pick up the scoring slack left in Williams' wake, perhaps wildcard Will Barton could. The Blazers were solid, if not flush, at every position, or so the story went.
With a deeper bench, several young players looking to break out, and a newly-minted playoff experience for everyone involved, optimism ran high. In a crowded and apparently well-matched Western Conference everything seemed possible. The sky may not have been the limit, but nobody was going to pencil in the ceiling lower than the Conference Finals. Even the national pundits weren't saying nay, citing Portland as an early darkhorse favorite.
Last year the 2nd Round, this year the 3rd, next year and beyond...the world!
Be sure to walk with us as we explore why it didn't turn out that way, hitting all the stepping stones along the way.