Despite the outcome of Easter Sunday’s Game 1 in Oakland, a 121-109 loss to the Golden State Warriors, Trail Blazers fans should take solace in the fact that it was a highly competitive game for three quarters, and that Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined to score 75 points with little help from the supporting cast. In other words, Lillard and McCollum were almost able to win the game by themselves. Imagine the outcome if there was more production from the bench than just nine points.
In fact, the scoring outburst from Portland’s backcourt marked the first time a pair of Trail Blazers scored at least 34 points each in a playoff game since 1992, when Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter accomplished the feat in Game 2 of that year’s Western Conference Finals against the John Stockton and Karl Malone-led Utah Jazz. The two combined for 77 points that game. The 1992 team eventually lost to the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals.
Both Drexler and Porter gave their input to The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears for his column commending Lillard and McCollum’s herculean effort:
“They are getting it done,” Porter told The Undefeated about Lilllard and McCollum. “Both are becoming two-way players. Both are big-time scorers, can shoot the 3-ball, have a midrange jumper and rim finish.”
Said Drexler to The Undefeated: “Lillard and McCollum are prime-time players. I love watching them play. They’ll need more help from their teammates to beat the Warriors.”
Spears noted that the Trail Blazers backcourt outplayed the vaunted “Splash Bros,” Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, but that the Warriors backcourt got more help. Draymond Green had a near triple-double, and Kevin Durant led them with 32 points. Nonetheless, the Blazers aren’t worried after the Game 1 defeat, with McCollum telling Spears:
“We’re not scared of nobody,” McCollum said. “It’s just a game man. We are all humans. … This is how I was raised. Growing up was harder than this. This is the easy part. You just show up, you do your work and you hoop. The struggle of going to a small school? That’s the struggle. Now we’re here.
“We know what it takes. Hard work. You’ve got to work hard work every day, no matter.”
Game 2 is set for Wednesday night at Oracle Arena in Oakland. There is no word yet as to whether injured center Jusuf Nurkic will suit up for the Trail Blazers, but the extra time off could certainly work in Portland’s favor.