Well, that was interesting. Maybe interesting isn’t indicative of how insanely irritating the initial two games of the first round of the NBA playoffs were for the Portland Trail Blazers. In a manner the Blazers have perfected throughout the year, the team lost a close game they had in their grasp due to late game in-execution and lost another by sheer befuddlement and lack of effort in the second half. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls: these are the Ugly Blazers.
In a season marked by countless trials, inhumane adversity and frustrating failure, it only got worse in the disastrous two game jaunt in Dallas. Gone is the hope and the thoughts of tasting the sweetness of the second round and unwelcome are the questioning of desire, the inability to defend and “WTF is wrong?” by fans and pundits alike. As a series pegged to be an upset-worthy, it has been anything but… and dramatically so. And now almost everything: sanity, pride, confidence in the present and future hang in the precarious balance of two home games in the Rose Garden.
Just when the Blazers seem to have played some of the best basketball of their season in the month of March, lethargy, poor shooting and an inability to complete road games in which they lead reared its ugly head. Sure they ended March with a cool 10-6 record, but upon further examination of those wins and losses (more importantly the losses), that 10-6 was as choppy as the Atlantic Ocean. The entire Blazers’ fan base was given the gauntlet of emotions to feel throughout March: shock at the luck with certain key opposing players being suspended or injured, elation over thwarting the Heat and stunning the Spurs, seething anger over the appearance of not giving enough effort in Charlotte and Atlanta, sound confidence in a few boring blowout wins and a loss for words and utter disappointment in losses to Oklahoma City and New Orleans. The Blazers season to date has not been as well-wrought as expected and the month leading into the playoffs proved no different.