Pelton: Portland’s 2000 Western Conference Final Loss The 16th Biggest Playoff Heartbreak

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 years ago

With the NBA Finals rematch between the Heat the Spurs starting tomorrow, ESPN.com’s Kevin Pelton has put together a list of the biggest NBA playoff heartbreaks of all time, an exercise that was surely inspired by the Spurs being a last-second Ray Allen three-pointer away from winning the 2013 Finals in six games. That disappointment came in at No. 1 on Pelton’s list as, according to his calculations, San Antonio had a 99.3 percent chance of taking that series right before Allen’s corner three found the mark.

If you’re like me, the first thing you thought of when looking at Pelton’s list is “Where is the 2000 Trail Blazers team that lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference finals?” That team, you might remember (at least, if you haven’t succeeded at wiping it from your long term memory), was up 15 points in the fourth quarter before a monumental collapse, capped by Kobe Bryant throwing an alley-oop to Shaquille O’Neil, led to the Blazers losing Game 7 89-84 and thus, the series. That took place 14 years ago today and is still my all-time worst sports memory.

According to Pelton, the Trail Blazers had a 75 percent chance of winning the championship that year versus the Pacers if they could have held on for one more quarter against the Lakers, which puts that loss back in 2000 at No. 16 on Pelton’s heartbreak list

16. 2000 Portland Trail Blazers

Series: 2000 West finals | Opponent: L.A. Lakers

Regular-season record: 59-23 (No. 2 in West)

SCENARIO A
Win Game 7 of West finals (10:28 4Q)
Probability: 95.6%

SCENARIO B
Beat Pacers in NBA Finals
Probability: 78.5%

CHAMP ODDS: 75.0%

As in 2002, either team in the Western Conference finals would’ve have been favored to beat the Indiana Pacers in the NBA Finals. The Blazers looked nearly certain to get that opportunity when they led Game 7 in L.A. by 15 points with 10:28 remaining. One of the great collapses in playoff history ensued. Portland shot 4-of-21 the rest of the game as the Lakers outscored the Blazers 29-9 to come from behind and win.

Just brutal. That collapse was the beginning of the end for a talented yet caustic roster featuring Scottie Pippen, Rasheed Wallace, Damon Stoudamire, Arvydas Sabonis, Steve Smith and Bonzi Wells that went to the Western Conference Finals two consecutive seasons before being swept 3-0 by the Lakers in the first round of the 2001 Western Conference playoffs. Portland wouldn’t win another playoff series until this season.

On the flip side, Pelton has the 76ers losing to the Trail Blazers in the 1977 Finals at No. 22 on the all-time playoff heartbreak list

22.  1977 PHILADELPHIA 76ers

Series: 1977 NBA Finals | Opponent: Portland Trail Blazers

Regular-season record: 50-32 (No. 1 in East)

SCENARIO A
Win NBA Finals up 2-0
Probability: 67.5%

CHAMP ODDS: 67.5%

Although the Sixers had home court, the Portland Trail Blazers entered the Finals as favorites by my model, thanks to their superior playoff run. That swung during the first two games of the series, as Philadelphia went up 2-0 at home.

Portland had little margin for error as the series shifted to Oregon — and didn’t need any. The Blazers evened the series with two wins by a combined 54 points, stole Game 5 in Philly and clinched the series back home in Game 6.

For all intents and purposes, that series was over once Maurice Lucas shook Daryl Dawkins’ hand after the two exchanged blows in Game 2 in Philadelphia.

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Podcast: The Rip City Report, Finalized Roster Edition

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
1 day ago

Greetings podcast enthusiasts. Between CJ McCollum getting an extension and Moe Harkless signing a new deal, Portland’s roster for the start of the 2016-17 regular season is all but finalized. So it seemed like a good time to hit the studio with Joe Freeman of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com to record yet another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…

On this edition, we discuss the near-max extension for McCollum and the four-year, roughly $40 million contract for Harkless, which directions Terry Stotts might go in terms of starting lineups and minutes allocations, the news that both Al-Farouq Aminu and Festus Ezeli will forego playing for Nigeria at the 2016 Summer Olympics, give a quick rundown of the preseason schedule and answer your Twitter-submitted questions.

You can find the Rip City Report on SoundcloudiTunes and Stitcher. Thanks as always for listening.

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VIDEO: McCollum Brothers Talk Tournament, Who’s Mom’s Favorite on ESPN

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
1 day ago

Last weekend, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and his older brother, Errick, were guests on ESPN’s SportsCenter to discuss, amongst other things, The Basketball Tournament, which is billed as a “open application, 5-on-5, single-elimination, winner-take-all basketball tournament” in which the winning team takes home $2 million in prize money. Errick’s team, Overseas Elite, won the tournament last year and are in the finals, which airs Tuesday at 4 PM Pacific on ESPN, again this year.

But the tournament wasn’t the only topic of conversation, as any time you get two brothers together, you’re contractually obligated to ask them which is mom’s favorite. One one had, CJ still lives with his mom, so you might assume he’s the got the No. 1 son ranking sewn up, but it sounds like Errick was the much better behaved child and mom’s tend to have long memories, so it sounds like it’s a bit of a tossup.

 

“CJ, he was a good kid,” said Errick, “he just liked to get into things. He was really physical. She couldn’t take him around any other kids or he would, like, get into little altercations with them because he just played too rough.”

Sounds about right.

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Stotts Talks Super Teams And Suits On The Doug Gottlieb Show

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
4 days ago

On Thursday, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was a guest on The Doug Gottlieb Show on CBS Sports Radio. Over the 15 minute conversation, Stotts discusses LeBron James saying he would have been his pick for 2016 NBA Coach of the Year, Kevin Durant signing as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors, the notion of “super teams” in the NBA, having confidence in your players and his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive.

You can listen to the entire interview here, though I’m transcribed a portion which you can read below…

On LeBron James saying Stotts should have been Coach of the Year:
“To be honest, it felt pretty good. I have a lot of respect obviously for LeBron, what he does and what he’s done in his career, but for him to come out and say that, it made me feel good.”

On Cleveland winning the NBA Finals after being down 3-1 to Golden State:
“Obviously it was historical. A lot of things went into it, but when a team can do that and to win two games on the road being down 3-1, it’s really remarkable. It just put an end to a historical season as it was with Golden State and what they did during the regular season, the way they came back against Oklahoma City and then for Cleveland to do that, it was just remarkable. I thought it was a remarkable season to begin with and it finished that way.”

On Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors:
“My first reaction was he earned the right to be a free agent. I know a lot of thought went into it and it wasn’t a decision that he took lightly. I know he took a lot of criticism for making that decision but I think he earned that right to make whatever decision he felt was best for him. I think it’s going to be interesting with Golden State. Obviously defending them is going to be a challenge because — we talked about versatility — they were already an extremely talented offensive team and he’s going to make them better. They’re going to be a different team than they were last year, they’re not going to have the big guys. When you lose Festus Ezeli, who is on our team now, and Andre Bogut and Maurice Speights, the look of their frontline is going to be different. But I think they could be just as good just because of what they’ll be able to do at the offensive end.”

His thoughts on “super teams” in the NBA:
“You know, I don’t know if it’s good or bad for the league. I’ve just kind of accepted that that’s the way things are. I know people have made comparisons when LeBron went to Miami and that was supposedly the first super team and they won two championships, but it’s not like there was a five year, seven year run dynasty. When you get out on the court, you still have to play the games. Obviously Golden State is going to be very good, but you’ve got to play an 82-game season, you’ve got to go through four series to win a championship. I think the league does thrive on star power, whether it’s star power within a team or having a team be a star. I don’t know, I think the league is doing extremely well, I think it’s extremely popular. I think this is just another story that people are going to be interested in.”

On having confidence in shooters like Allen Crabbe and CJ McCollum:
“I’m a big believer in confidence when shooting. It probably goes back to my freshman year in college when I didn’t know whether to shoot or (laughs) you know the phrase. But anyway, I’m a big believer in confidence and Allen and CJ are two different categories. CJ struggled with injuries his first two years and was trying to get incorporated into a roster that was winning 50 games and never really got into a rhythm. I think shooting is about rhythm and confidence. Same thing for AC, really, is that he did have opportunities to play in his first two years but he was playing behind Wes Matthews and Nic Batum and his opportunities on the court were limited. When you’re looking over your shoulder and trying not to make mistakes and putting pressure on (yourself) to make a shot, it’s difficult. I really give it to CJ and Allen, they were ready for this year and they were prepared for it, the opportunity was going to be there. But I think that a lot of players — and you know, you played — is that if the coach trusts me, I’m going to play better. Whether I trusted them or not their first two years, certainly their opportunity was there and I trusted them with the role that they were going to have.”

On his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive:
“Every year what I do is I go through the closet and knowing that I’m going to get some suits in the fall, I go through and weed out the older ones. There’s certain ones that I do kind of have a special place in my heart for them, but other than that, I just take some of the older suits and the Men’s Wearhouse has a great program with the suit drive to give away suits to people who can use them. I’m kind of a bigger guy so hopefully there’s some big guys out there who are able to take advantage of them.”

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