The Portland Trail Blazers jogged through the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, wrapping up the season with a 107-99 victory. Their final record of 44-38 is good for fifth seed in the Western Conference, which means they will face off with the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the NBA playoffs. CSNNW brings us inside the locker room.
I saw it before our game started. I was sitting here getting ready and I heard some of our TV guys in there; they was like "Ooh ooh!" and I walked in there and San Antonio was up and they pretty much controlled the game down the stretch, but tonight was more about us just having our minds right, coming in and preparing ourselves to go into the playoffs, and playing the kind of basketball that’s allowed us to be in the playoffs, so I was proud of what we did tonight, even though San Antonio beat Dallas.
What does it mean to break the Blazers all-time 3-point record?
Any time you break a record like that—part of an organization like this—it’s an honor. I’ve been here four years now, so it came a lot quicker than I would have called, but it’s an honor to be at the top of that list.
Dame, what are your thoughts on the Clippers now that you can finally talk about them?
I think we played them tough all season long. We’ve had some weird things happen. We beat them here, then the next time I had a stomach virus and basically didn’t play, and then the next time CJ [McCollum] didn’t play, then the last time… you know, we lose on a buzzer beater. Three point lead, all we need is one stop, they hit a three, Moe [Harkless] gets a good look at the rim, they get the last shot and hit a buzzer beater. It’s going to be tough like it has been all season long. They’re a really good team, but we know that we have a chance, so we got to go out there and be ourselves and lock in and be ready.
They’re a really good team—a veteran team. Got a lot of guys who have been to the playoffs before, but I like our chances against anybody. I feel like we can compete with anybody, and I look forward to the challenge of going to LA.
How do you feel like you guys match up with them?
I feel like we match up pretty well. Guard-wise, they got an all-NBA guy in CP [Chris Paul], they got a really good 2-guard in J.J. [Redick], and interior—Blake [Griffin] is coming back, so they got Blake and DeAndre [Jordan], but I like our chances with Dame, myself, Chief [Al-Farouq Aminu], Moe, Mason [Plumlee], and we got a really good unit that comes off the bench in AC [Allen Crabbe], Gerald [Henderson], and Ed [Davis], so I feel like we match up pretty well.
Dame talked about their ball pressure. Can you describe maybe how they play defense?
I got to go back and watch some of the film. They’re pretty active. They got some athletic bigs who hedge hard and do some different things defensively. I think that they’re well coached and they execute well out of timeouts.
What do you think about what Kobe [Bryant] did tonight?
It’s crazy. He went out like a G. You know, 50 FGA, 60 points on your home court, comeback from behind win? That’s a legendary stat. That’s what legends do.
I asked you a couple weeks about the notion that you and the Clippers kind of have a rivalry and you sort of dismissed it and said that that’s something that builds in the playoffs. I guess now sort of a chance to maybe fester that a little more?
Maybe. I mean, this is our first tie playing them in the playoffs. We’ve matched up against the Spurs and Memphis a couple years in a row, Houston a few years ago. I think, like you said before, rivalries happen in the playoffs—they form in the playoffs—and we got to consistently get there, consistently play at a high level for it to be a rivalry. So I wouldn’t say it’s there right now, but we’re going to go compete.
What do you think about this matchup now against the Clippers, now that you know for sure?
It’s exciting, man. We’re ready for them. I think we played them well in the regular season, but it’s going to be a different ball game. We’re looking forward to it.
Talk about the matchup with the Clippers. How do you feel you—?
Well, obviously they’re a veteran team. They’ve been in the playoffs before, but they have a new dynamic with Blake coming back. It’ll be interesting. I think each time we played, there might have been a key player out of each lineup. I know we didn’t have CJ one game; I know we lost Dame one game; I know they didn’t have Blake. So it’ll be interesting.
It seemed like there was a lot of emotion around that series this year as well.
Yeah. Just quirky things—even from preseason, I think there was some sideline stuff, so it’ll be a good matchup. It’s a matchup we’re looking forward to and we’ll be well prepared for.
What did you think about Damian becoming the franchise leader in threes tonight?
It didn’t surprise me, but then again, I haven’t been here, so I didn’t appreciate how many he had really hit. That’s great, man. I’m sure he’ll take a lot of records and raise the bar for a lot of stuff around here, and then league-wide as well.
Mason, you’ve played in the playoffs before, but it’s more of a bigger role this time. [Indiscernible]
Just looking forward to it, prepare for it, ready for it, and it’s going to be a good series.
For sure. We wanted to play well heading into the playoffs. We took it serious and we tried to win and some guys got some opportunities tonight, so that’s always a good thing.
What are your thoughts on playing the Clippers now that you know for sure that they are [indiscernible]?
It’s the series we wanted. We going to be ready for them and we’ll be ready to go Sunday.
As someone who played in Staples last year, you probably have a lot of things to go back to there in Los Angeles, or at least people to see, [indiscernible].
Yeah, I don’t know about people to see, but I got a couple restaurants I’m going to check out. Even though the weather’s going to be good when we leave here—get a little sun out there—but it’s a business trip for us. We going down there, we going to try to get both of these games and come back home.
How do you think you match up with the Clippers?
I think we match up well. They’re a good team; we’re a good team. We got some weapons; they got weapons. It’s going to be a lot of chess moves going on. We going to have a great game plan and we’re going to be well prepared, so as long as we take care of business on our end we should be fine.
How surprised were you to find out that Dallas had lost?
I wasn’t really surprised because I was watching the game, but San Antonio did rest most of their key guys, but they’re so good of a team they’re always going to be in the game—always give themselves a chance to win. We were going to take care of business if they didn’t, so it didn’t really matter. We controlled our own destiny.