It started as a down week for the Portland Trail Blazers (40-40) as they battled the Denver Nuggets (38-41) for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Blazers lost their first two games while the Nuggets won theirs. However, Portland finished the week strong, winning their final two games, thanks in large part to Damian Lillard’s 59-point outburst. The Blazers now need only one win or Nuggets loss to clinch the No. 8 seed.
Trail Blazer Awards
Player of the Month: Lillard was named the Western Conference Player of the Month for March. He averaged 29.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game during March. Lillard also became the first Trail Blazer to record eight 30-point games in a single month.
Coach of the Month: Terry Stotts was named the Western Conference Coach of the Month for March. Portland was an NBA best 13-3 in the month. It was the first time a Trail Blazer coach and player have received this award in the same month.
Terry Stotts and Damian Lillard are the first Trail Blazers in team history to win Coach and Player of the Month in the same month.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) April 3, 2017
Trail Blazers All-Eccentric Team: Perhaps a little less glamorous than Coach and Player of the Month, on Monday Peter Sampson presented the Blazer’s all-eccentric team. Peter’s break down of the most eccentric Blazer players included Bill Walton, Rasheed Wallace, Robin Lopez, Billy Ray Bates, Evan Turner, and Paul Allen.
Games This Week
Blazers at Timberwolves, April 3: The Blazers suffered a disappointing 110-109 loss in Minnesota on Monday. Portland felt the loss of Jusuf Nurkić to injury as Timberwolves center Karl Anthony-Towns went off for 34 point and 12 rebounds. Towns scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and accounted for 8 of Minnesota’s final 11 points.
Blazers at Jazz, April 5: Portland continued to feel the effects of Nurkić’s injury Tuesday night in Utah as the Jazz cruised to an easy 106-87 victory. The Blazers got beat up on the boards as Utah out rebounded them 47 to 28. CJ McCollum lead the way with 25 points, but Portland had no answer for Rudy Gobert or Gordon Hayward.
Our own Steve Dewald was in Salt Lake City for the game and wrote up an in-arena report.
Blazers vs. Timberwolves, April 6: It was looking like another bad night for Portland as Minnesota jumped out quickly and led 34-20 after the first quarter. The Blazers kept chipping away, however, and and played a great fourth quarter holding the Wolves to only 11 points en route to a 105-98 victory. Allen Crabbe was the hero of the night scoring 25 points while shooting 8-10 from three. Check out the video of each of Crabbe’s career high in 3-pointers here.
Blazers vs. Jazz, April 8: Portland was able to avenge their poor effort against Utah earlier in the week with a 101-86 victory Saturday night. Damian Lillard was the story of the night. He scored a franchise record 59 points, and tied franchise records for points in a quarter (26) and 3-pointers (9). He added 6 rebounds and 5 assists and ended the game without a turnover. Only one other Trail Blazer scored in double figures (Maurice Harkless with 12).
After averaging 29.1 points per game as the Western Conference Player of the Month in March, Lillard is now averaging 30.6 points per game in April.
Looking Ahead to the Summer
Harkless and Aminu Make Orlando Trade List: The Orlando Magic had an embarrassing incident this week. A white board in the background of a photo of a newly signed player appeared to have listed players the Magic are potentially targeting in the offseason. Blazers forwards Al-Farouq Aminu and Harkless can be seen near the bottom of a column labelled “Hybrid Trade.” The Magic traded Harkless to Portland in the 2015 off season.
Why Portland’s Financials Matter: In his mailbag on Wednesday Dave Deckard answered a question about the state of the Blazers finances. He looked at the potential of some serious luxury tax penalties that Portland might be facing in the future.
CJ McCollum in the News
CJ at the Boys & Girls Club: CJ McCollum visited the Boys & Girls Club in Northeast Portland on Wednesday. He talked to the kids about how they can use meditation to clear their heads and focus. Our own David McKay was there and provided a report complete with pictures of the event.
CJ on The Vertical Podcast: Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical joined CJ at the Boys & Girls Club and recorded a podcast with him. They chatted about McCollum’s involvement with the Boys & Girls Club, the Blazers’ season, CJ’s decision to stay at Lehigh for four years, and more. Check out a preview of it here.
Looking Ahead: As we enter the last week of the season Portland’s magic number is one, meaning the Blazers need just one more win or Denver loss to clinch a playoff berth.
Denver plays three more games. They have a home match up today against the Oklahoma City Thunder then road games Tuesday and Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks and Thunder.
Portland, meanwhile, has home games on Monday against the San Antonio Spurs and Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Be sure to check back on Blazer’s Edge throughout the week to stay up to date on all the latest Trail Blazer news and analysis.