The NBA Playoffs are underway, and the Portland Trail Blazers had a less-than-stellar performance against the New Orleans Pelicans in the opening game of the series. Despite the outcome, the city was buzzing with enthusiasm from the Rip City faithful. Here is a chronicle of what I saw and heard from my vantage point in the 300 level.
Like most Blazers outings, I started my night crammed inside the electric confines of Spirit of 77. It was already shoulder to shoulder two hours before tip off, but our small group was able to nab a few open spots with vulture-like accuracy. Even with the lopsided score of the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat game, the crowd inside remained focused on the broadcast that would periodically reveal players warming up and arriving for the final act of the night. Anytime the face of Anthony Davis flashed across the screen a chorus of boos would fill the air of Spirit of 77’s vaulted ceilings.
Arrival And Introductions
I’m a sucker for the spectacle of NBA Playoff introductions, and this year’s presentation didn’t disappoint. Much like previous years, the crowd was equipped with a light-up bracelet, only this time a large cloth cylinder descended from the center court scoreboard to carry an enhanced version of pregame introductions. The corresponding music, lights, and cheers from the crowd served as a solid reminder of how special the postseason is in Portland. If you weren’t pumped after that presentation, you might want to see a doctor.
Meet The Heels
Anthony Davis’ talent is no secret, but it was interesting to hear how the crowd reacted to the Pelicans’ supporting cast. Jrue Holiday and Nikola Mirotic both had crowd-silencing moments during last night’s contest. The silence is important to mention, as the crowd was almost entirely made up for Portland fans. The last two postseasons featured series against the Warriors, which brought in a healthy amount of Golden State fans as a result. When Stephen Curry was rolling, the Moda Center maintained a playoff atmosphere despite the home team’s struggles. The silence wasn’t forever last night, as the restless groans of Blazers fans began to gain steam during the Pelicans’ extended run in the mid-to-late third quarter.
A Reason To Believe
Thanks to a deficit-reducing run in the fourth quarter, Blazers fans got to show off why they are some of the best in the business. A three-pointer from Damian Lillard at the 9:07 mark brought the entire stadium back into the game, and it set the atmosphere for the remainder of the contest. A CJ McCollum basket from beyond the arc seemed to erase the nightmare of the first three quarters, as it was hard to believe that Portland could lose after pulling within a single point. The crowd was on its feet for the...
Even with the hope-inspiring run of the fourth quarter, the Pelicans were determined to steal homecourt away from the Blazers. The groans from the third quarter quarter returned after a strange inbound play that put the ball in the hands of a ice-cold Meyers Leonard. Our own Eric Griffith and Brian Freeman explained the play, but no analysis was going to quell the discontent in the stairwells after the game. Frustrated with the team’s performance and the squandering of home court advantage, the once-welcome matchup with the Pelicans transformed into much bigger hurdle.
Odds & Ends
- Outside of a pair of three-pointers from CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard, Ed Davis received the biggest cheers from the crowd.
- Make sure you have your tickets on your phone or on paper if you normally use your season ticket card to get in. I missed this bit of information, so I got to stand in the rain a little longer as I retrieved my ticket.