It was another incredible performance from Lillard, but Caris LeVert almost broke the Blazers’ heart. The young Brooklyn guard was stellar in his own right, with 37 points, six rebounds and nine assists, but his potential winner sounded at the back of the rim – saving Portland and ending Phoenix’s season.
Here are some key points of the game:
The blazers are winning, they’re in
Placement matches actually end on Friday, but Thursday was the last truly meaningful day, as the four teams vying for two places in the Western Conference were all in action. At first, the Phoenix Suns beat the Dallas Mavericks to finish 8-0 in the bubble, but they still needed help. They didn’t get one from the Milwaukee Bucks, as the Memphis Grizzlies crossed a team without Giannis Antetokounmpo to land a spot in the play-in series.
With wins from the Suns and Grizzlies, the San Antonio Spurs were knocked out before they could even take the court, ending their remarkable 22-year playoff streak. And so, as we approached the last game of the night, the situation that had started out quite complicated at the start of the day became extremely clear.
It was win or come home for the Blazers, and they got the job done – barely, but they did. Even more important than just making the play-in, the Blazers passed the Grizzlies for the No.8 seed in the process. That’s huge, because it means the Blazers have to win just once to land a playoff berth, while the Grizzlies will now have to beat them twice in a row.
Lady starts again
They haven’t announced Seeding Games player Kia NBA – the corporate brand on awards is so cool – yet, but there’s no doubt it will be Damian Lillard. The man was an absolute force of nature for the past few weeks, pretty much wishing the Blazers in the game on his own.
Thursday night was no different. The Blazers intended to get the ball out of his hands, trap him early in the first quarter when he came out of the pick-and-rolls, and go so far as to double him in midfield in the fourth quarter. And it didn’t matter. There were certainly sections where he was silent, but when he turned it on, the Nets couldn’t do anything.
He finished with 42 points and 12 assists, 13 for 22 on the field, and 8 for 14 on a 3-point field, which is an amazing game in any situation, not to mention an elimination game where you are faced. constant double teams. Overall, he was responsible for 69 of the Blazers’ 134 points – more than half of them.
On a night like this, there is so much you can point out, but nothing was more impressive than its 3-point shot. He hit ridiculous shots from the corner and, at one point early in the fourth quarter, shot with his heels at the NBA logo in midfield. It was just an amazing sight.
Blazers dominate second chance points
Lillard was obviously the main story of this game, as there’s no way the Blazers would even come close to winning without him. However, there were other things going on in Orlando, and one of the most important was the Blazers’ dominance in second chance points.
The Nets entered the bubble without a number of key players, and one of the biggest challenges for the group that came down to Orlando was lack of size; Jarrett Allen was the only healthy player over 6-foot-9. While playing so small was a boost to their offense, it also made them vulnerable on glass – especially on the defensive side, where Allen’s penchant for chasing blocks often leaves him out of position for rebounds.
Portland took advantage of this weakness in a major way, collecting 14 offensive rebounds. More importantly, they converted on those extra opportunities, scoring a huge 29 second chance points, which was not just a season high, but the most second chance points they had in a game since 2014. When you allow a team to shoot 55 percent of the field like the Blazers did, you have to find a way to keep pace, and the Blazers did it on the glass.