C.J. McCollum Cleared For Full Practice With No Restrictions

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 years ago

It was announced today after the team’s practice in Tualatin that rookie guard C.J. McCollum has been fully cleared to practice without restriction for the first time since breaking the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot during training camp. McCollum underwent a non-surgical procedure to repair the fracture on Oct. 16 and has gradually increased his on-court work since then. While the team says there is no timeline for McCollum to make his NBA debut, he is now at least medically cleared to play in his first NBA game.

Here is what both McCollum and Terry Stotts had to say about McCollum’s return after Friday’s practice.

……………..
TERRY STOTTS

“C.J. was cleared to practice today. He went five-on-five, he had a good practice, he looked good. There’s still no timeline on when he’s expected to play but it’s just the next step of the process of getting back. That’s where we are with that.”

What did you see from him?

“He moved well, he shot well. Going from one-on-one to three-on-three to five-on-five is a lot of the same things. Just getting back into the flow of things with this team.”

So he’s completely unfettered?

“No restrictions, unfettered.”

How happy are you for him personally?

“I’m happy for him more than anything else because he’s had a long year. Going back to Lehigh, it’s been a long year for him with the two injuries. A young guy like that wants to be on the court.”

……………..

C.J. MCCOLLUM

How does it feel to be back out on the court without restrictions?

“It feels good to able to go out there and practice. This is one of my first practices going five-on-five with the guys so it’s good to be back out here and kind of feel like a player again.”

How are you feeling physically?

“I feel pretty good. I’m at my target weight right now, so that’s great. Just working my way back into game conditioning.”

How much do you miss being able to be out on the court?

“I miss it a lot. Watching your guys go out there and battle and you’re getting to watch practice and kind of see the gameplan unfold and watching the guys have success, it kind of makes you more hungry, makes you want to be out there, so I’m happy to kind of be able to work my way back into practice.”

Coach Stotts said there’s no timeline for your NBA debut. Do you have a timeline in your head?

“Hopefully soon, but just kind of taking it slow, following the protocol they have in place. I look forward to returning to game action.”

Have they talked to you at all about working you into the rotation?

“Just taking it one day at a time. It was good to get out there and practice and kind of get some live action in there. But obviously the next step will be playing the game, just don’t know obviously when that will be.”

You’re completely pain-free?

“I’ve been pain-free for a long time. But yeah, the foot feels really good. Obviously I’ve got to get more practices in, kind of get used to playing five-on-five, but I look forward to it.”

How will it be judged that you’re ready to get in games?

“I know I won’t be ready after one practice. We’ll just kind of take it slow and kind of see how I feel, see how I’m progressing.”

How much have you learned just watching the team without playing?

“I’ve learned a lot, honestly. We’ve got a great group of guys out there, a lot of veterans, a lot of guys with game experience. It’s good to kind of see how everything unfolds before you jump right into it. ”

Any discussion about being sent to the D-League?

“No, we haven’t discussed that.”

With the team playing as well as they are, you think it might be hard to crack the rotation. How confident are you about your ability to get in there?

“I’m here for a reason. It’s a long season. At some point you’re going to get your chance, you’ve just got to take advantage of it. Obviously we’re having a lot of success right now. Just look forward to working my way back in and doing whatever is necessary.”

Probably a good problem to have, joining a lineup that is already winning.

“Yeah, absolutely. You can never have too much depth.”

How hard has it been watching from the sidelines?

“It’s hard, especially watching other rookies, you played against rookies. Watching them have success makes it tougher but it kind of humbles you and makes you continue to want to work hard and get your chance.”

 

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Disastrous Fourth Quarter Ruins Portland’s Chance Of Snatching Home Court From Golden State

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
18 hours ago

OAKLAND — For the first three quarters, it looked as though the Portland Trail Blazers might actually beat the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena, something that only two teams have managed to do in the last seven months.

But unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, NBA games last four quarters. And Tuesday night in Oakland, the Warriors outscored the Trail Blazers 34-12 in the final 12 minutes to come away with a 110-99 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 19,596 in Game Two of the Western Conference semifinals.

“We played three really good quarters, and we showed that we can compete with them, and it got away from us in the fourth quarter, obviously,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “It was disappointing to lose a game that you’re competitive and you’re in a position to be in the fourth quarter. But we’ve got to close it out… It was an opportunity to get a win on the road, and we’ve got to learn from it and be ready to go get one in Game Three.”

The Warriors now lead the series 2-0.

“I think nights like tonight, they suck,” said Damian Lillard. “It hurts to go back in the locker room after you play so well for so long and you come back in there with the L. But it is a part of growth. The entire season has been growth for us. But nights like tonight, we have to close that out. We have to get that done. It was just a missed opportunity.”

The first half of Tuesday night’s game went about as well as the Trail Blazers could possible expect, with Portland taking a 17-point lead in the second quarter thanks to shooting 51 percent from the field and 50 percent from three. Though the Warriors would cut into the Trail Blazers lead thanks to an 18-3 run, Portland, as was the case for most of the night, always seemed to counter at just the right time to quiet the Oracle Arena crowd. That counter in at the end of the second quarter came courtesy of back-to-back threes from Al-Farouq Aminu and Damian Lillard to push the lead back to eight by the intermission.

Portland, thanks mostly to Lillard going 6-of-11 from the field and 4-of-5 from three in the third, extended their lead to 11 going into the fourth quarter before Golden State got white hot to finish out the game. The Warriors took their first lead of the night early in the fourth quarter and would go on to win by 11 after finishing out the game by shooting 11-of-18 in the final 12 minutes of regulation. The Trail Blazers also play right into the Warriors’ hands by turning the ball over five times while going 5-of-19 from the field.

“I think the last run, they were desperate,” said Lillard. “It got to the point where it was win or lose. There wasn’t another quarter after that. It wasn’t just stay with it. It was, ‘We’ve got to do it now.’ And they played desperate, and we just didn’t respond to it well enough to finish the game.”

The Trail Blazers were led by Lillard, who scored 17 in the third quarter before finishing with 25 points on 8-of-20 shooting from the field and 6-of-11 shooting from three, six assists and four rebounds in 40 minutes. CJ McCollum went 9-of-19 for 22 points, two rebounds and two assists in 41 minutes.

Aminu got off to a fast start, scoring 10 points in the first quarter before finishing with 14 to go along with six rebounds and two assists. Maurice Harkless would add 11 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes with Gerald Henderson coming off the bench to add 12.

As was the case in Game One, Klay Thompson would lead the Warriors with 27 points on 7-of-20 shooting from the field and 5-of-14 shooting from three. Draymond Green, who was the driving force along with Festus Ezeli in Golden State’s pivotal fourth quarter, was just shy of another triple-double with 17 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in 41 minutes while also blocking four shots.

“I think there came a point where me and Klay were trying to do too much,” said Green. “When we settled down and trusted everybody else, that’s when everything started to click for us. So as far as the way I’ve been playing with the exception of that one game, it’s playoff basketball. This is what we live for. You play the whole season to get to this point.”

Shaun Livingston and Harrison Barnes scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, with Andre Igoudala putting up 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting off the bench.

Next up, the series takes a three-day break before shifting to Portland for Game Three on Saturday at the Moda Center.

“We’ve been in bad positions time and time again, and we’ve never shied away,” said Lillard. “We’ve never not answered the call. I don’t see why this time it would be any different. In our last series against the Clippers, we were down 0-2. We went home, and the next two games they were pretty much full strength. They had their guys and we got it done those two games. Obviously, Golden State is a different monster, but we know the same thing can happen, and that’s what we’re going in there thinking and believing, and we’re back on our home floor. We’ve got to go out there and play a game like tonight and go finish it.”

Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 pm on ABC and 620 AM.

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Trail Blazers Versus Warriors: A Second Round Playoff Overview

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
4 days ago

Few thought the Portland Trail Blazers would make the playoffs when the NBA regular season started back in November. And even those who did believe that Portland could overcome significant roster turnover to make the postseason, it’s hard to imagine that even they figured the Trail Blazers would still be playing come the beginning of May.

Yet here they are.

After winning their first round, best-of-seven playoff series 4-2 versus what ended up being a significantly hobbled Los Angeles Clippers squad, the Trail Blazers now advance to the Western Conference semifinals to take on the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors, with Game One scheduled to tip off Sunday at 12:30 pm at Oracle Arena.

As was the case versus the Clippers, Portland’s matchup versus Golden State is the first time the two teams will have met in the postseason. The Warriors took the 2015-16 season series 3-1, with their wins coming by an average of 20.3 points. But on the plus side, the Trail Blazers handed Golden State one of their nine losses this season, blowing out the defending champs 137-105 in the first game back from the All-Star break.

And there’s also the matter of Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, who is expected to miss at least the first two games of the series with a sprained MCL in his right knee. The reigning MVP, who is expected to win the award again this season, averaged 32.5 points on 54 percent shooting from the field and 53 percent shooting from three, 6.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds versus the Trail Blazers this season, so the fact that he’s sitting out at least the first game of the season certainly helps Portland’s chances. However, the Warriors still managed to beat the Houston Rockets in the first round with Curry sidelined and the Trail Blazers struggled at times to eliminate a Clippers team playing without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, so even with Curry out, Golden State are still the heavy favorites, especially playing at Oracle Arena, where they’ve lost just twice during the regular season.

Before the series starts on Sunday, brush up on the matchup by perusing some of the pertinent details of the previous meetings this season

SECOND ROUND SCHEDULE

Game One — Sunday, May 1: Trail Blazers vs. Warriors at Oracle Arena, 12:30 pm on ABC, 620 AM and ESPN Radio

Game Two — Tuesday, May 3: Trail Blazers vs. Warriors at Oracle Arena, 7:30 pm on TNT and 620 AM

Game Three — Saturday, May 7: Warriors vs. Trail Blazers at Moda Center, 5:30 pm on ABC and 620 AM

Game Four — Monday, May 9: Warriors vs. Trail Blazers at Moda Center, 7:30 pm on TNT and 620 AM

Game Five* — Wednesday, May 11: Trail Blazers vs. Warriors at Oracle Arena, Time TBD on TNT and 620 AM

Game Six* — Friday, May 13: Warriors vs. Trail Blazers at Moda Center, Time TBD on ESPN and 620 AM

Game Seven* — Monday, May 16: Trail Blazers vs. Warriors at Oracle Arena, 6 pm on TNT and 620 AM

* if necessary

TRAIL BLAZERS TALK CLIPPERS

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 3: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers handles the ball against Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors on April 3, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Damian Lillard on facing the defending champions…

“We thought (the Clippers) was tough without (Chris Paul) and Blake (Griffin), but that’s a championship team. Even without Steph (Curry), they’re still a championship team. We’ve got to keep our mind right, compete and play together. We can’t be worried about who’s not out there because we just watched them beat Houston by 25 twice without Steph. We’ve just got to keep improving on the things we’ve done well and be locked in defensively.

Lillard on how they beat the Warriors during the regular season…

“To beat them we basically had to outscore them. Against a team like that, when you don’t get stops and you let them get rolling, if we weren’t making shots the way we were, we probably would have lost by 30. We can’t let them be that comfortable, as comfortable as they were that night. They’re going to make shots, we can’t be discouraged by that, but every possession matters when you’re playing against a team like that because they always one three away from running off on you. So we’ve just got to be ready for that.”

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 03: C.J. McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers goes up for a shot against Stephen Curry #30, Brandon Rush #4, and Leandro Barbosa #19 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on April 3, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
CJ McCollum on facing the Golden State Warriors…

“They pose a lot of problems. Historically speaking, they had a really good year breaking the record for wins, losing one game at home I believe this year, so you know it’s going to be a tough environment. Offensively, even without Steph (Curry), they do a great job of moving the ball. Draymond (Green) is the head of the snake now that Steph’s out, and he moves the ball well. He’s the heart and soul of the team and he gets everybody involved. Klay (Thompson) will be a little bit more aggressive looking to score without Steph and Harrison Barnes and Shaun Livingston and the rest of the guys will be a lot more aggressive too.”

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 11: Mason Plumlee #24 of the Portland Trail Blazers drives to the basket against Andrew Bogut #12 of the Golden State Warriors on March 11, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mason Plumlee on turning attention from the Clippers to the Warriors…

“We’re ready for them. Obviously you get so locked in to one team that you have to take a deep breath, step back and start watching the film. They’re the champs, so you’ve got to beat them. They aren’t going to have off nights, they’re going to be locked in and we’re ready for the challenge.”

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 11: Allen Crabbe #23 of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots against Leandro Barbosa #19 of the Golden State Warriors on March 11, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Allen Crabbe on facing a team that set the NBA record for regular season wins…

“It’s a big challenge, but we’re up for it. We feel like we can compete with anybody in this league. We’re NBA players just like them. We know it’s going to be a big challenge, but I think it’s going to be exciting for us.”

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 3: Ed Davis #17 of the Portland Trail Blazers passes against James Michael McAdoo #20 of the Golden State Warriors on April 3, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ed Davis on playing the Warriors in the second round…

“Obviously they’re a great team, got a lot of pieces. Steph (Curry) is out but it’s still a great team. Without Steph they probably still a boarder line 50-win team. It’s not like they can’t play or whatever, so it’s going to be a tough series for us, so we’re going to take it one game at a time… It’s going to be a tough series, they’re a great team, they’re defending champions, so you know they definitely have a lot to play for. It’s going to be a tough series for us.”

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 3: Gerald Henderson #9 of the Portland Trail Blazers handles the ball against Shaun Livingston #34 of the Golden State Warriors on April 3, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Gerald Henderson on playing the Warriors yet again…

“It’s a team we’re familiar with, we played them five times this year including preseason, so we’re familiar with them. There’s no surprises as to what they do well, what they want to do. I don’t know how long Steph will be out — I haven’t actually got to watch them much in the playoffs without him — but it’s a little different with him out there. They still play the same style but having a player like that out… I guess would change things a bit.”

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 3: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball during the game against Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers on April 3, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
INJURY UPDATES

PORTLAND: Meyers Leonard is OUT for the series after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder on April 8, 2016.

GOLDEN STATE: Stephen Curry (MCL sprain, right knee) and Kevon Looney (left hip surgery) are OUT for Game One.

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 3: Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors puts up a shot against Mason Plumlee #24 of the Portland Trail Blazers on April 3, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
SEASON STATISTICS

Points per game: Trail Blazers 105.1 (6th), Warriors 114.9 (1st)

Points against per game: Trail Blazers 104.3 (20th), Warriors 104.4 (19th)

Point differential: Trail Blazers +0.8 (13th), Warriors +10.8 (1st)

Field goal percentage: Trail Blazers 45 percent (16th), Warriors 49 percent (1st)

Opponent field goal percentage: Trail Blazers 45 percent (16th), Warriors 43 percent (3rd)

Three-point field goal percentage: Trail Blazers 37 percent (4th), Warriors 42 percent (1st)

True shooting percentage: Trail Blazers 55 percent (10th), Warriors 59 percent (1st)

Rebounds per game: Trail Blazers 45.5 (5th), Warriors 46.2 (4th)

Offensive rebounds per game: Trail Blazers 11.6 (3rd), Warriors 10.0 (20th)

Rebound differential: Trail Blazers +1.8 (10th), Warriors +2.3 (8th)

Rebound percentage: Trail Blazers 51 percent (10th), Warriors 51 percent (8th)

Assists per game: Portland 21.3 (21st), Warriors 28.9 (1st)

Turnovers per game: Trail Blazers 14.1 (17th), Warriors 14.9 (25th)

Pace: Trail Blazers 98.31 (12th), Warriors 101.6 (2nd)

Offensive rating: Trail Blazers 106.1 (7th), Warriors 112.5 (1st)

Defensive rating: Trail Blazers 105.6 (20th), Warriors 100.9 (5th)

Net rating: Trail Blazers +0.6 (14th), Warriors +11.6 (2nd)

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 11: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers goes up for the shot against Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors on March 11, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
PREVIOUS MEETINGS THIS SEASON

October 9, 2015: Trail Blazers 118, Warriors 101 (preseason)

While it’s foolhardy to draw too many conclusions from two games, it’s hard not to get a little excited about how the Trail Blazers have fared during the preseason, particularly on the offensive end, after their performance Thursday night against the defending NBA champs.

Thanks to the Allen Crabbe’s shot, Damian Lillard’s ability to get to the free throw line, a yeoman debut performance from Al-Farouq Aminu and quality contributions up and down the roster, the Portland Trail Blazers got their first win of the preseason Thursday night against the Golden State Warriors with an impressive 118-101 victory in front of 19,303 at the Moda Center.

“It was a positive night,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “I was pleased with the way we played. Obviously scoring 77 in the first half, I didn’t see that coming but I really liked the tempo of the game. I liked how we were getting our shots, we were moving the ball. Both halves were completely different. It was up and down first half and much more of a defensive game in the second half. I thought we had a lot of good performances. Obviously (Crabbe) had a night and that was good to see the rhythm. I thought for the most part offensively we helped each other get shots and that helps the ball go in a little bit.”

January 8: Warriors 128, Trail Blazers 109

The Portland Trail Blazers had their entire squad available for Friday night’s game against the defending NBA Champion Golden State at the Moda Center. There were no injuries, no illnesses, no suspensions and no clerical errors to speak of, making Friday’s contest one of the first this season in which Terry Stotts had the entirety of the roster at his disposal.

It didn’t seem to make much of a difference.

The Warriors, as they’ve done more often than not to their competition this season, dominated the Trail Blazers whenever they seemed to put their minds to it and eventually came away with a wire-to-wire 128-108 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 20,035, many of whom came to support the road team.

“Well, it was pretty obvious Golden State’s a pretty good basketball team,” said Stotts. “They showed why they have the record they have. They shot the ball really well, they passed — 36 assists. I think one of the things they do best is their passing and their shooting sets up a lot of their passing, obviously. They’re a good team.”

February 19: Trail Blazers 137, Warriors 105

The Portland Trail Blazers entered the All-Star break playing their best basketball of the season, so there might have been some concern that a week off might have threatened their momentum.

But as Damian Lillard often says these days, don’t let that worry you.

Despite playing the Golden State Warriors, a juggernaut of a team that had lost just four games this season going into Friday night’s game, the Trail Blazers picked up right where they left off, blowing out the defending champs 137-105 in front of a sellout crowd at the Moda Center.

“It’s an understatement: we played very well,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “I like the way we kept our composure. Offensively, we were terrific all night moving the ball. Dame had it going early, had it going late. After giving up some easy baskets in the fist quarter, I thought our defense was pretty solid the rest of the night. It was a great way to start after the break.”

March 11, 2016: Warriors 128, Trail Blazers 112

The Portland Trail Blazers set out to do two things that no other NBA team had done this season: defeat the Golden State Warriors twice and hand the defending NBA champions their first loss on their home court since 2015.

They succeeded in neither.

The Warriors built a 15-point lead in the first quarter, which they extended to 23 in the second quarter on the way to scoring 81 points in the first half to eventually beat the Trail Blazers 128-112 in front of a sellout crowd of 19,596 at Oracle Arena Friday night in Oakland.

“They’re a championship team and they played like it,” said Damian Lillard. “I thought we came out and we had a pretty decent start. They’re great shooters, they see the ball go in and there’s not a whole lot you can do after that… They played a much better game than we did.”

April 9, Warriors 136, Trail Blazers 111

On Friday, the Boston Celtics, a day after losing to the Trail Blazers at the Moda Center, became the first team this season to beat the Golden State Warriors on their home court this season, proving that the reigning NBA champions were not actually invincible at Oracle Arena.

But while that might be good news for the rest of the league, it didn’t do the Trail Blazers any favors Sunday afternoon in Oakland. Behind yet another ridiculous shooting night from reigning MVP Stephen Curry, a Warriors team determined to avoid suffering consecutive home losses for the first time since January 2014 bested the Trail Blazers 136-111 in front of a sellout crowd of 19,596.

“We played much better than we did last time (in Oakland),” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “They jumped on us early and we were never really in the game the last time. At least this game we were competitive for two, almost three quarters. It’s hard to look at the score and feel that, but we certainly played better than last time.”

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Trail Blazers Ignore The Notion Of Inevitability Going Into Game Six

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
5 days ago

When the Western Conference first round series between the Trail Blazers and Clippers started, many assumed it would be a quick affair, with the Clippers eventually moving on to face the Golden State Warriors in the second round. And after Warriors point guard Stephen Curry suffered a knee injury that will keep the reigning MVP sidelined for the start of the second round, much of the conversation revolved around how that would improve the Clippers’ chances of beating the defending champs in the Western Conference semifinals. The fact that the Clippers still had to beat the Trail Blazers two more times didn’t seem to make much of a difference.

A few days later, that narrative has flipped. Leading the series 3-2 with a chance to clinch in Game Six tonight at the Moda Center (tipoff scheduled for 7:30 pm on KGW, ESPN and 620 AM), the Trail Blazers are now Golden State’s presumptive opponent, as injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have all but ended the Clippers’ playoff run.

But just as the Clippers still had to win four games to advance, so too do the Trail Blazers, which is a good reminder that there are no such thing as inevitability when it comes to sports. “That’s why the play the game,” might be trite, but it’s still as true as it ever was, something the Trail Blazers know as well as any team still alive in the postseason.

“We just go out there and play, we don’t really pay attention to what’s being said,” said CJ McCollum. “You can’t read into that too much. First we were supposed to get swept, first we were just happy to win a game, so you just go play. You don’t really worry about the other stuff, you just control what you can control, keep your mindset the same, understand that nothing is inevitable. You’ve got to go out there and play.”

Though the Trail Blazers were able to beat the Clippers 108-98 at Staples Center in Game Five sans Paul and Blake, a team led by JJ Redick, DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers still managed to take a five-point lead into the half and had the game tied at 71-71 going into the fourth quarter, so it’s not as if any team, including Portland, can just roll the ball out in a playoff game and expect to emerge with the victory. After all, if that were the case, the Clippers would already be in Oakland preparing for the Western Conference semifinals.

“We understand that they’re a good team,” said McCollum “Regardless of what’s happened, regardless of what injuries they’ve gone through, they’re still a good team and we’ve still got to go play the game.”

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