Regardless of Damian Lillard’s 55-point performance in Game 5, the Portland Trail Blazers are now in a 3-2 hole to the Denver Nuggets in the opening round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. During the crucial stretch of Blazers’ double-overtime loss to the Nuggets, CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Jusuf Nurkic (fouled out) and Carmelo Anthony struggled to support Lillard’s heroic output.
According to Good Morning It’s Basketball’s Tom Ziller, that collapse should not define the Blazers’ current roster.
But that doesn’t define these Blazers. McCollum has had some superb playoff performances of his own. Nurkic is better than he showed in Game 5. We know that Powell can win when it counts. We all knew and we all know the Blazers are deeply flawed on the defensive end, that Covington, Nurkic and scheme can paper over but so many deficiencies. There are reasons Portland was at risk of slipping into the play-in the final weekend of the regular season, even with Dame. It’s not a perfect supporting cast.
Ziller went on to provide a bit of hope for the Blazers as the series returns to Portland for Game 6.
Leaping from that reality to questions about how the Blazers should react when the series remains very much alive, however, isn’t particularly relevant. Portland made the conference finals two years ago by beating Jokic and the Nuggets in Denver in a Game 7. Do you think Dame is no longer capable of leading his team to that kind of glory? Do you hear some alarm indicating that Dame Time is up? If you believe what you witnessed in Game 5 from Lillard (I do) and you believe the other Blazers can play marginally better than they did (I do), then you should be prepared to believe Portland can save their season over the rest of this week.
In Game 4, Lillard recorded a modest 10 points in the Blazers’ 115-95 victory over the Nuggets in the Moda Center.
You can read the complete story from Ziller by clicking here.