More thoughts from last night + the ‘magic’ of March returns..


Just to piggyback on what Coup wrote about last night’s game. It took a long time (about 70+ games) but Portland finally went out, grabbed an inferior opponent and went to work like Beatrix Kiddo did on the Crazy 88’s in Kill Bill. Don’t get me wrong there have been some blowouts. But there’s also been a mixed bag of playing down to your opponent, a splash of desperate comebacks (successful and unsuccessful) and the sense of allowing  these teams to liiiiiiinger. Last night wasn’t the most beautiful basketball by any means, however it wasn’t about that. Last night, was all about taking care of business. It showed in a quote  from last night’s game:

"“They play really good help defense,” Memphis forward Rudy Gay said. “They force you to do things you don’t normally do. They force you to take bad shots.”"

Having watched this team all year…I’m not sure I agree with Mr. Gay all the way. I think we all know what the weakness of this team is. Honestly, how many times has this been said about the Blazers? My guess is you could probably only say this about a handful of times. Too often players run roughshod on us for me to believe this. And it’s a bit late for me to hope this is the start of some awesome trend. On the other hand, the fact that he said it means a) Portland did it last night and b) Portland has the ability to do this.  I guess we shouldn’t do cartwheels because the Blazers shut down the Grizzlies…but when you hold an NBA to 66 points, you did a few things right on that end of the court. We have to start dictating more on both ends, especially defensively. Too often defensively and offensively we kind of settle. I mean contrast the defensive effort when LA came to town to the defensive efforts against Philly and Phoenix. Last night was different and I’m wishing on a star in these last nine games we see a big improvement in that area.

Also, you’re probably wonder what I mean by the ‘magic’ of March returning. I’m not talking about that Villanova/Pitt game from yesterday (even if it was 10 slices of awesome). I’m talking about the Blazers and how we’re on the verge of doing special things this late in the season. I’m talking about the fact that the Blazers magic number to the NBA playoffs is now at 4. Simply 4. Any combo of Blazer wins or Sun losses that gets us to 4 means we return to the NBA playoffs for the first time in 6 years. Can you believe that? I remember reading that last night and I had to take a breath and just let it soak in. I had to indulge myself in the moment. Forgetting about seeding for a second or match-ups or any of that, it hit me. For the first time since I was a 16 year old, not only are we playing meaningful games in March but we’re on the verge of clinching a playoff spot. You can’t lose sight on how neat a moment like this is. We’re not talking about next year, no coulda, shoulda, woulda’s. No faltering. Coming from the Ha Jeung Sin All-Stars playing a couple years ago to this? It doesn’t get much better.