Portland TrailBlazers: A Playoff Cinderella?

PORTLAND, OR – DECEMBER 29: Seth Curry #31 of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots the ball against the Golden State Warriors on December 29, 2018 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

No, Portland is not a playoff Cinderella this year. The Blazers deserve to be in the Western Conference Finals and would even be deserving of an NBA Finals bid. Led by Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Portland has proven all year that they are capable of what they are doing currently.

Missing Piece

For the last few years, Portland had potential to be a contending team in the Western Conference. However, they were missing the other piece of the puzzle to go along with their two stars. Portland found that missing piece with Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic finally came along to be the player Terry Stotts believed he could turn into. The Bosnian big man averaged just shy of 16 points per game this year to go along with over 10 rebounds per game. These three led Portland to their best record in five years. Unfortunately, Nurkic went down with a horrific leg injury to end the regular season.

Dame and C.J.

With Nurkic being out for the playoffs, Lillard and McCollum needed to play out of their minds to advance in any round. Playing out of their minds is exactly what they’ve done so far. Lillard is currently fifth in playoff points per game with 27.7 while McCollum is not far behind sitting at ninth with 25 points per game. The two have been virtually unstoppable through their first two series against OKC and Denver. After Lillard closed out the first round series with a 37 foot step-back three in Paul George’s face, the rest of the conference was put on notice that Portland could still beat anyone in a 7-game series without Nurkic. Enes Kanter stepped into the empty slot and has performed very well for Portland throughout the playoffs.

Conclusion

Portland is far from a Cinderella team in this year’s playoffs. Riding the backs of Lillard and McCollum can beat just about anybody. However, it might not be enough to take down the back-to-back champion Golden State Warriors. Whether Portland wins the series or not, they deserved to be there in the first place and had a very successful season that should excite the state of Oregon for what the future might hold.

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