The Portland Trail Blazers clinched the 32nd playoff berth in team history with a 120-115 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. Their season no longer comes down to whether or not they'll make the playoffs, but rather who they will face in the first round. With games remaining against the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Denver Nuggets, wins are still important. CSNNW brings us inside the locker room.
Seeing where we’re at now compared to where we were to start the season, not even talking about the predictions, but where we were at as a team.
It started in open gym, started in San Diego when we were playing together and piecing everything together and just kind of figuring out roles and figuring out how good each player was going to be, what each player was going to be able to bring to the table.
Seeing it all come together now, it’s a nice process. I’m thankful to be a part of the team and glad we were able to clinch a playoff spot tonight.
Are you tempted to give a little bit of a ‘I told you so’?
No, I don't need to say anything. We're in the playoffs, maybe I'll tweet something later, but right now, no.
You’re in the playoffs, but your chance to get up to No. 5, how important is that?
It's something we're looking at. Two games left now, so we'll try to win both of those, protect home court, and control our own destiny. I'm not sure what Memphis is doing, how they're doing tonight or tomorrow, whenever they play again. We just control what we can control and take care of our business.
Being the underdogs is not a problem for you guys, though, is it?
No, we've been counted out and picked as a team to be in the lottery, picked as a team to not do a lot just based on our roster and what we lost. There's no expectations for us.
Except from within here?
Except from within here, yeah.
What gives you the best hope that you guys can be successful in the playoffs?
I think we're really good in pick-and-roll situations. We offensive rebound well. We've got some players who are peaking at the right time and doing a lot of different things. Chief [Al-Farouq Aminu] can guard different positions. I think with our style of play we pose problems for a lot of teams.
Is the youth kind of an advantage for you guys?
I think guys are eager and hungry. Some guys haven't made the playoffs before. Some guys haven't really played in the playoffs when they made it, so this is their opportunity to put it all together; have a good season, make the playoffs on a young team, and produce.
You're definitely going to hear some comments from me in the next couple days. But like I said, our work isn't done. We still want win more and we want to get in the playoffs and make some noise.
Important, though, to get the highest seed you can?
Yeah. We want to go after that fifth spot. Get that fifth spot, end up playing the Clippers in that four spot. We like that match up.
Where do you think this team has grown the most this season?
We've had so many guys step up and get better over the course of the season. I think that's the biggest reason why we've been able to keep getting better and why we are in the playoffs now. It seems like every 10 games, a new guy just explodes.
We had CJ at the beginning of the season. Meyers [Leonard] had a stretch where he played well. Ed [Davis] had a stretch, G [Gerald Henderson] had a stretch, Moe [Harkless] came, Chief lately.
We had so many guys play huge for us. All season it's been a great group effort. We've stayed together. It's been impressive to see us be able to lean on so many different guys over the course of the season.