After a wild Tuesday night, the Portland Trail Blazers received plenty of love from mainstream media Wednesday. Let’s focus on ESPN, who gave Damian Lillard and the Blazers the headlining spot on all of their daily shows.
“I can see them possibly getting to the Conference Finals.”
On The Jump, Rachel Nichols discussed Portland’s success with the co-hosts and recapped all of the other buzzer-beating shots to end a series (though it turns out they missed a couple, as did multiple ESPN shows). Former Celtics star Paul Pierce didn’t mince words, saying the Blazers have a chance to get to the NBA Finals:
Before the Playoffs, I said OK, this team’s ceiling is the second round, but the way they played the first round verses OKC, I can see them possibly getting to the Conference Finals, and maybe the Finals.
Longtime ESPN analyst Amin Elhassan added:
I was one of the people before the Playoffs started, yeah, they’re going to beat the Thunder.
It’s not the first time Elhassan went against the grain by predicting a Blazers playoff victory. Out of 18 analysts, he was one of three who successfully predicted the Blazers would defeat the Rockets in the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
“Sometimes you just have to give credit to greatness.”
Over at Around the Horn, the debate about Paul George’s defensive decisions raged among the panelists, as well as an odd debate about Portland’s distance to the coast. In the end, Kevin Blackistone made the case that George did what he could, but sometimes the other player just makes a better play:
I don’t know what more Paul George could have done in this case. Let’s not forget, this was a step-back three to 37 feet. That’s amazing, when you can see the logo of the court and the guy is stepping back to that. Paul George is a good defender. He had his arm stretched out. He’s long, he’s tall. We know that. It was just a great shot. Sometimes you just have to give credit to greatness, and that’s what we saw this particular time, and we saw all through the series from one Dame Lillard.
“Russell Westbrook can eat it.”
Meanwhile, on Pardon the Interruption, Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon continued the debate of whether Paul George properly defended Lillard on the play, as Damian made no sign of a drive. However, Wilbon’s attention focused on the posing, chirping, losing Westbrook:
You know what, Russell Westbrook can eat it. He can eat it. He flexed, grimaced the whole series, he gave him this (mimics Westbrook’s arm motions) and [Lillard] gave him “get out of the playoffs.”
The ESPN crews will have plenty more to discuss about the Blazers when their second round series starts Monday, April 29. Their opponent will either be the San Antonio Spurs or Denver Nuggets, the latter of which holds a 3-2 lead in the ongoing best-of-seven series between the two teams.