Portland Trail Blazers Playoff Preview; First Round vs. Los Angeles Clippers
With the 2016 NBA playoffs set to begin on Saturday, let’s take a look at this year’s Portland Trail Blazers Playoff Preview.
The Blazers, 43–38, clinched a playoff spot last week, surprising fans and pundits. After the team lost star forward LaMarcus Aldridge and three other starters — Robin Lopez, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews — in the offseason, this year was supposed to start a massive rebuilding process for the team.
Long before the Trail Blazers became one of the biggest surprises of the NBA, well before they locked an unexpected playoff berth, coach Terry Stotts stood in front of his players and staff and did something for the first time in his coaching career. He issued a guarantee.
Many experts projected the TrailBlazers to only win 35 games. Now ,after clinching a playoff berth, the Trail Blazers enter the playoffs with a lot to gain and nothing to lose. The Portland Trail Blazers want the challenge of being underdogs. After losing four of their starting line-up last season, most expected them to slide. Looks like someone forgot to tell Damien Lillard and C.J.McCollum; the former continues to be one of the prime stone-cold killers in the NBA and McCollum is a lock for most improved player.
Well-coached and a talented backcourt in place, the sky is the limit for the Trail Blazers. Even if they lose in the first round, they will still be well ahead in the rebuilding process.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum
Damian Lillard stepped up his game and is now rising to the occasion, despite being an All-Star snub for the 2nd straight season. However, the biggest reason why the Trail Blazers are on the top of their game right now is CJ McCollum. Many thought he was a bust being drafted as a first rounder and played below expectations earlier in his career. But now?
He’s a Most Improved Player projected winner and he really deserves it. His resurgence helped Damian Lillard to carry the Trail Blazers to reach new heights despite losing its key players due to free agency. And what a time for CJ McCollum to show what he’s really got.
The solid plays from Allen Crabbe, Al-Farouq Aminu, Meyers Leonard, Gerald Henderson and Mason Plumlee have also contributed as well.
Beware Clippers, Trail Blazers Are Ready
The Trail Blazers are capable of advancing in the playoffs this season. Due to the fact that this team has a tendency to beat any team in the league, Damian Lillard can explode at any time soon (he even scored 54 points in a victory against Steph Curry and the Warriors) and CJ McCollum’s ceiling for improvement is still high, the Trail Blazers can reach new heights in the postseason.
Their first task is to face the 4th-seeded Los Angeles Clippers. I strongly believe that the Trail Blazers are capable of beating the Clippers in a 7-game series because of them being unpredictable and Damian Lillard is next to Steph Curry as being one of the best Point Guards that can explode in the NBA.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to me is the second best NBA backcourt duo — next to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. The Clippers should watch out because the Trail Blazers are not a joke.
(Portland Trail Blazers Playoff Preview)