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  • plucky, feisty, spunky.

  • If you're the Portland Trailblazers, you've heard all those descriptions over the years and look there.

  • Compliments don't get me wrong.

  • But the thing about Damian Lillard and C.

  • J.

  • McCollum is that they aren't here to be anyone's cute little spoilers.

  • They're here to win a championship.

  • Which is why, when the Blazers had a rough preseason, it raised some eyebrows.

  • It's why there was even more talk after Portland turned in a 20 point loss in its season opener, a game in which Lillard Gasp went on a scoreless streak in the first half.

  • Yes, Portland had dealt with a rash of covert absences.

  • But wasn't this the team that had one of the best off seasons in the NBA?

  • With use of Nurkic back at full strength?

  • With Gary Trent Junior blossoming and Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr coming aboard, questions piled up about why the Blazers weren't better.

  • It turns out that those questions were being asked internally to and what has happened since, Well, no one is winning a title in Game two or three of the regular season, but it is hard to get where you wanna go if you're not even walking down the right road.

  • And Portland seems at least finally to have found its path first over the weekend and overtime thriller against Houston, in which C.

  • J and James Harden each drop 44.

  • It was hardly a statement when the Rockets only had nine players available to to their own cove.

  • It issues.

  • But it's your felt noisy, especially when McCullum, who had spent four days listening to his name come up in hardened, freed report, buried the game winning three with six seconds on the clock.

  • Afterward, he said quote, I know I'm nice, which is amazing.

  • And then last night, a date with the defending champs, the team that had knocked the Blazers out of the bubble with both LeBron and A D on the floor.

  • This one was more of a real test.

  • And despite some streaky play, the Blazers past Gary Trent Jr was exceptional off the bench, hitting from everywhere to finish with 28.

  • Nurcan and his Kanner combined for 26 rebounds and Damian Lillard just caught fire when he had to move like this on his way to a 31 point night.

  • Yeah, you can check out the handles on the way to the and one.

  • But the real story was the Blazers defense, which had been the focal point of the front office this offseason.

  • The Blazers have been trying a revised scheme, even bringing an ex Bulls head coach, Jim Boylan, on a three week stint to help implement it.

  • But for a while, it seemed to be me.

  • Things worse?

  • Not better, until it didn't.

  • Whatever click for the team defensively in the second half of the Houston game was on full display against the Lakers, with Rocco all over the place making steals, deflections, even making Anthony Davis looked like a mayor mortal as Davis finished the game with just 13 points.

  • Meanwhile, Derek Jones Jr full airplane mode on LeBron bounding in from the three point line to give the finals m v p a taste of one of his own signature moves.

  • The Lakers had gone into the night 59 0 in games, which they led after three quarters.

  • That had been the fifth longest streak in NBA history, and the Blazers broke it.

  • It was a well rounded win in a shortened season where everyone counts a little more than usual.

  • Of course.

  • Only time will tell what wins like this being.

  • Is it one of those impressive sparks the Blazers have lit all the time over the past few years?

  • You know, wins that make it seem plecki, or is it the beginning of a larger flame, one that really could burn down the whole league?

  • So, Vince, do you think that this Blazers team conjoined the rank of title contender?

  • Uh, they put the right pieces around.

  • You have shooting, you have rebounding, you have airplane mode.

  • Who is their shot blocker?

  • I think everybody is gonna have to play at that level Elite level all year long, all playoffs long leading into it.

  • I think Zach Collins getting him back is gonna be important.

  • And also having Carmelo cause there's a guy who can get you a bucket when you need it with that demands attention.

  • And in the double teams, uh, you know, it is tough, The West is tough and they're in a situation where if they play well, you have a good record.

  • You're like, Oh, they're playoff bound and e think they just need to get in and they're scary team to be because of their scoring.

  • Uh, Gary Trent Jr.

  • Who's who's a rising star on and another complimentary score.

  • They have the ability, but, you know, we just have to.

  • They have to stay healthy and we'll see Right now.

  • They're short of that, I think.

  • But they're contenders to be contenders, and that's a good step for the places you have to put them behind.

  • Lakers, Clippers and Nuggets.

  • After what Denver did in the bubble, you have to put them behind all those teams in that next year of teams.

  • Utah, Dallas, Portland.

  • I think Portland has the most to prove.

  • Utah has a longer track record of being a good defensive team.

  • Portland's defense was a disaster.

  • Last season has been, said Covington Jones, the return of Zach Collins.

  • They've got the tools there to be an average defense, maybe a slightly above average defense.

  • We just have to see and then Dallas has what you really want.

  • If you want to contend for a title which is one of the apex Predator wings, 67 seas every past can score from all over the floor, and that's of course, Luca dot ch.

  • It's just tough sledding in the playoffs when your two best scores are small guards and those guys are incredible.

  • Dame is incredible and C J is nice.

  • Just like you said.

  • He's nice.

  • He's got the deepest drag bag of tricks in the whole league.

  • It's just they've got more to prove.

  • They've got more to show us.

  • But given their resource is given what they had to work with, they've put a pretty damn good team together.

  • And all you can ask for in that situation is are we one ankle injury from arrival?

  • Are we one big break?

  • Are we one trade away from being in the conference finals?

  • And I think they could get in that conversation.

  • But top tier contenders, they're not there yet.

  • Yeah, but I will say this.

  • You know, I think adding Covington is gonna be essential to for them because they're gonna need somebody.

  • You just like you said the guard Luca Dotage.

  • They're gonna need somebody took to guard LeBron Some of these big uh oh, I I mean, some of these big guards, he's big scores.

  • And Covington, like you saw him guarding a D, he's gonna be very important to their squad.

  • He's gonna have to stay healthy because I think, like you said with the small guards, when, When, When you're seeing Luca trying to post those guys up, you could throw a Covington on him and coming, taking guard one through four and maybe some five.

  • So he's gonna play an important role to that squad.

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plucky, feisty, spunky.

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Does the Blazers' win vs. Lakers prove they're more than 'contenders to be contenders'? | The Jump

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/12/31
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