What a shocker. In a period of 15 minutes, the Blazers and Nuggets both made late comebacks. And suddenly all the scores tipped. Portland won, 136-131, and Denver held off Minnesota. With the surprising wins, the Blazers elevated into the third seed, and will play the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Oklahoma City won all 4 regular-season games between the two teams, prior to Jusuf Nurkic suffering a season-ending compound fracture.
Let’s recap how we got here.
In pregame, they made the announcement:
Stats board has the Blazers starting Simons, Trent Jr, Layman, Labissiere and Leonard.— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) April 11, 2019
Portland only played 6 players. Yep, seriously. The starters listed above, plus Zach Collins.
The Blazers broke a record. Not a good one. Portland gave up 87 points in the first half to the Kings, breaking the previous record of 86.
But it didn’t matter. Sacramento didn’t play their starters in the second half, and Portland promptly went on an amazing run. The Kings’ shots stopped falling, the crowd was always lively, and suddenly Portland had the lead.
It was the Simons and Skal show. They lit up the scoring and kept the crowd alive all night. Simons scored 37, including some late heroics, and Labissiere added 29. All 6 Blazers scored in double-figures.
The Blazers will open the playoffs Saturday or Sunday. We’ll post the schedule when released.