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Blazers’ Playoff Run Shows the Potential of Their Core

The Blazers kept their core together and it paid off, Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report writes.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers entered the 2018-19 season hearing noise from doubters about the viability of a Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum backcourt. Coming off a sweep by the 6-seed New Orleans Pelicans, change was suggested by outsiders. Instead, Portland opted to keep its core together — which includes head coach Terry Stotts — and this season, they made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.

Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report looked at the Blazers as a case for not blowing a team up and riding the consistency:

This time last year, Portland was coming off a disappointing first-round sweep at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans, just one year after being swept in the first round by the Warriors. Dating back to 2016, the Blazers had lost 10 playoff games in a row, which led to all the questions that usually get asked during that kind of cold spell: Was Stotts the right coach for this team? Could Lillard and CJ McCollum be the two best players on a team that could go deep in the playoffs? Would there be major changes to the roster around Lillard?

Highkin wrote that while the team could be very different next year, having a steady core keeps Portland’s chances of making noise a reality:

There’s no guarantee the Blazers will be playing into late May next season. The roster around Lillard and McCollum could look different—Kanter, Hood, Curry and veteran forward Al-Farouq Aminu are all free agents and could price themselves out of returning to Portland. There’s still no guarantee Nurkic plays at all next season, and there’s no way to gauge how he’ll look when he does return.

But Lillard, McCollum and Stotts will be back, and as this run has shown, you never know when a team will catch the right breaks and be positioned to take advantage of them.

You can read more from Highkin’s piece here.