After a disappointing loss in six games to the weakened Denver Nuggets, there were bound to be some unhappy players. They went out with a whimper as a double-digit lead in the third quarter translated to an eventual 11-point loss.
The game five 55-point epic may have been the low point for the team in several ways though. For Dame to have one of the greatest shooting performances in NBA and Playoff history, and the team still lose, left a bad taste in many people’s mouths. This loss showed up the poor defense and the lack of efficient shot creation outside of Lillard and CJ McCollum.
The Blazers didn’t recover from that game five shock, and couldn’t even force a game seven with the Nuggets.
Damian Lillard, Jusuf Nurkic leave clues on Portland Trail Blazers re-build
Post the game six loss at the Moda Center, it was big man Nurkic who fired the first shot in his post-game interview. His answer to the question’s around his future with the team sent a shot straight at the front office and potentially the coaching staff.
Nurk had some strong patches in this series and actually matched up well with Nikola Jokic when he was on the floor. But his poorly-timed fouls, which eventuated in him fouling out of three games, meant that Jokic smashed the Blazers in the large amount of time that Nurkic left the team without him.
Nurkic’s answer’s to the above question say a lot. With next year a non-guaranteed year on his contract, maybe he is one of the first out the door.
After another frustrating early playoff exit, Dame’s social media post was slightly more cryptic but still left a strong impression on how he may be feeling.
One of the most loyal players in the NBA, he quoted a line from the late rapper Nipsey Hustle around loyalty. Is this just Dame venting after a tough season, or has he become fed up with the poor defense and lackluster supporting cast?
With the season now over and the players about to leave for some rest, the front office can now decide which direction they will go in. We will soon see if these posts are just smoke and mirrors, or if there will be actual changes.