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.
The Blazers, not to sound like a broken record, find themselves close to the edge of no return. That big elephant entered the room again and plopped down right in front of the chalk talk board (really, it’s dry-ease, but for cliché’s sake…), staring at each and every player and coach in the locker room with piercing eyes. That elephant’s presence is symbolic of the massive disappointment that all of the Blazers contingency have in the team after it let a close Game 1 slip away and then not even show up after halftime in Game 2. It is a disappointment that we all have to hope, futilely, against stiff odds that the Blazers can turn course and hold serve at home to make a, uh, what’s that word? Tip of my tongue… damn, for the life of me… ooo, series. They have to hold serve to make a series of it.
Not more than 2 short weeks ago, how time flies, I was dreaming of this matchup because it was a team we measured well with. Instead, I have witnessed one team gain supreme confidence, while looking at the people so quick to write them off and say, “what now?,” and another team that is shattered and reeling into corner like an overmatched fighter. Pushed to the edge, one would hope resolve and fortitude begins to take hold. The blows, the pain, the heartache of allowing oneself to be bullied would serve as palatable reminders of what was just endured in Dallas. If they’re going to make a stand, you have to do it now. Like that one Bon Jovi song, “it’s [your] life, it’s now or never/[you’re] gonna live forever, [you] just wanna live while [you’re] alive.” Actually, that song might have been a better fit for this post, but with a title like “Precarious” I think Mos Def’s “Close Edge” fits perfectly.
It is long past the time to sit and whine about the officiating, to lounge and wallow at which players made less of a showing and to deliberate and postulate what the proper course of action should be to tackle the enormous task at hand. It is time for the players to decide that enough is enough and punch back. To say that, “nobody puts baby in a corner” (too much?). To push back and get off this edge that they seem so enamored with. I’ve already forgotten (to some degree) the embarrassment of Tuesday’s performance. It’s a new day, and a new series that begins in Portland, Oregon Thursday night. Let’s hope that this precarious situation perks Portland up and ready to pummel the Mavericks in the Rose Garden. Push back or get pushed off, simple as that…
PS- I did a video recap of Game 2 with a good friend for the website www.pinwheelempire.com. This site is a Blazers social networking site custom tailored to Blazer content and connecting others within the Portland metropolitan area to talk Blazers, basketball, life or just whatever floats your boat. Its good people and there are some good perks for just being a member here. Enough of the #shamelessplug, onto the video! (I also know that I had the score wrong).
PPS- Shouts out to BMitch for filming, editing and mastering the video and also Tyler for being the color (irony!) man to my cynical analytics. Enjoy!