Tonight, NBC Sports Northwest is replaying a true Portland Trail Blazers classic, their 1990 Game 7 against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals. It starts at 6:30 pm.
Why is it a classic?
C’mon, how many Game 7’s have the Blazers played? (Spoiler: Four.)
No, seriously, what makes it a classic?
Ok, let’s go back in time, and set this up for you.
Just over one year ago, the Blazers had completely fractured. Despite big hopes, the team looked apathetic, and had fallen under .500. Reigning Coach of the Year Mike Schuler was shockingly fired, and Rick Adelman took over as interim coach. Adelman settled in well, so he stayed. The Blazers moved on from Kiki Vandeweghe and Steve Johnson, and traded Sam Bowie for Buck Williams.
The rebuilt Blazers immediately caught lightning in a bottle. They ran teams off the court, while pounding them with their tough defense. They flew through the first round, but met their match against the San Antonio Spurs, with newly-minted NBA star David Robinson ready to take them to the next level. Of course, this series doesn’t really matter, because the Lakers are surely going to be waiting in the Conference Finals to beat either team and—
Wait, what happened to the Lakers?!
That’s right, a few days prior, the also-rising Phoenix Suns beat the Lakers in an unbelievable 5-games, and is already waiting for the winner of tonight’s game. The Spurs and Blazers know they no longer have the Lakers looming. The winner of this Game 7 has a legitimate shot at reaching the NBA Finals, a crazy concept for either team just one year earlier! Too bad the Blazers are missing a starter, though.
Hold the phone. The Blazers are doing this without Kevin Duckworth?
The Blazers unfortunately lost Duckworth early in the playoffs, when he broke his right hand during their first-round victory over the Mavs. Portland is trying to find some kind of cast to allow him to play. but he’s not expected to return. In fact, it would be a shocking development if he walked out on the court to play Game 7.
Rookie Cliff Robinson, coming off a surprising season, has helped the Blazers survive so far. Portland found a way to win Games 1, 2, and 5 without him. In fact, every team won their home games over the first 6. Would that help the Blazers in Game 7?
Who To Watch
Sophomore Rod Strickland is on the rise in San Antonio, and could be the key to this series. He can make some of the best passes you’ll see, but can also get too fancy and make ugly mistakes.
Keep an eye out for Kevin Duckworth. It’s very unlikely that he’ll play, but even if he does somehow get on the court, he probably won’t make any kind of impact.
A chance to make history
In the past 10 years, no team has represented with West besides the Lakers and Rockets. It will be a different team this year! Why not the Blazers?
They have to win Game 7 tonight to get a shot.