The Trail Blazers enter the 2019 NBA Playoffs with a streak of 10 consecutive losses in the postseason. Regardless of Jusuf Nurkic’s untimely injury, coach Terry Stotts’ squad should feel the pressure when they face the Thunder in the opening round.
When looking at the teams that can’t afford an early exit, NBA.com’s Matt Petersen placed the Blazers on a list of six teams that need to deliver positive results. Petersen cites Lillard’s less-than-ideal playoff record, but doesn’t place the blame solely on his shoulders.
That’s not Lillard’s fault, as it certainly was not his idea to commit a combined $226 million to Evan Turner, Allen Crabbe, Mo Harkless and Meyers Leonard in 2016. Yet the Blazers have overcome that limiting offseason with a 53-win season behind Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic.
Petersen goes on to suggest that the Blazers might look to shake things up this summer if the playoffs go poorly.
Portland is not the first team to see optimism cut short by rotten luck. With Nurkic out and McCollum only just returning from injury, the Blazers could lose to the Thunder in the first round. Would the Blazers be tempted to break up their high-scoring backcourt after a third consecutive first-round exit? Would a West semis run be enough to forestall that decision?