Blazers’ pride is left on the line

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com


VIDEO: Spurs-Blazers Game 4 preview

PORTLAND, Ore. — The holiday was fitting, since it was a situation that only a mother’s hug could make feel better.

They’ll tell themselves to ignore history, that it doesn’t matter that no team has ever climbed out of an 0-3 hole in the NBA playoffs.

But all that’s really left for the Blazers to reclaim is their pride.

“The first thing is I don’t want to be swept,” said guard Damian Lillard. “That’s the first thing. That’s the main thing. If we win one game, that’s momentum. That’s going in the right direction. As a team we can’t look too far ahead. Just gotta go out there and try to get one and go from there.”

Just a week ago, the Blazers were still floating on the high on the emotional wave that came from Lillard’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer that crushed the Rockets and gave the franchise its first playoff series win in 14 years.

Now they’re drowning in a Spurs tsunami that won’t let them catch a breath, let alone catch a break.

So how do the Blazers avoid thinking they’re now faced with trying to do, at the very least, the improbable?

“I think just pride,” Lillard said. “You don’t want to just give in. We’ve had such a great season. We’ve worked so hard to be in this position to just say, ‘All right, nobody’s ever done it.’

“Because it’s not impossible and if we count ourselves out that way, then we have no chance. I think you’ve got to look at it to try to be the first more than anything else.”

For now, it’s about winning a possession, winning a quarter and earning back just a little of the respect that might be slipping away if the Blazers surrender in four straight.

“That’s part of it,” said forward LaMarcus Aldridge. “We understand that we haven’t played well, that we have to do a lot of things better.

“Just by take it game by game. We can’t look too far ahead. Right now it’s a one-game season for us. If we can win, there’s one more game. That’s the way we’ve got to look at it. We’ve got to be locked in on that.

It’s not hard to know that you got one game left and if you don’t win, you go home. That’s easy to do.”

The hard part is slowing the Spurs who at the moment are like a huge boulder rolling down the side of a mountain. If it’s not Tony Parker’s offense, then it’s Tiago Splitter’s defense. If it’s not an All-Star starter in Tim Duncan, then it’s Boris Diaw or Patty Mills coming off the bench.

The Blazers contend that their effort has not been the least bit lacking and yet they have managed to lead for a grand total of just 34 seconds through three games. So the question must be asked if there comes a time when you have to simply admit that the other guys are better.

“No. No,” Aldridge said. “When they beat us, maybe. But not right now. We feel like this team is good and we’ve played them well and we’ve beaten them in the regular season.”

The ultimate challenge now is to beat the Spurs four straight times, which would let the Blazers write their names in the history books. But the immediate — if not just as difficult — goal is to force a Game 5 back in San Antonio, which would let the Blazers look themselves in the mirror by avoiding the sweep.

“That’s a terrible feeling,” said guard Wes Matthews. “I’ve been swept before and it’s not cool, it’s not fun. You worked too hard all season. You worked too hard the first series to win the way that we did in the fashion that we did, against the odds that we had to come out and be swept. It’s not like we’re not playing hard. That’s not a question by any means. It’s just a matter getting a win. Get a win and you never know what can happen after that.”

16 Comments

  1. Jack says:

    “No. No,” Aldridge said. “When they beat us, maybe. But not right now. We feel like this team is good and we’ve played them well and we’ve beaten them in the regular season.”

    This sums up why the Blazers are about to exit stage left. Regular season does not equal playoffs. They will learn eventually.

  2. xanti911 says:

    better start looking for a good place to catch em fish…coz spurs aint gonna lose tonight….

  3. Rhedz03 says:

    blazers have done quite well in the season and they did a good job in the !st round of the playoffs against the rockets but the spurs arE battle tested so blazers have to really try harder. Making the second round of the playoffs is a good start rof them, they got young players in lillard and aldridge so in no time maybe in a few seasons more they can surely contend na dplay head to head with the tops teams like heat or spurs. Hope blazers can win atleast 1 game…But my guess is spurs will take this series 4-2. Blazers a good team but spurs is the better team nithis series…its like king cobra vs. anaconda

    • SPURSFAN says:

      4-2? I don’t think so. Even if they beat the odds that are greatly against them and win tonight, then the series would go back to San Antonio, and I’m sorry, but they are not beating them on their own court.

  4. SPURSFAN says:

    I know Portland will come out swinging, yet the only thing i can see them doing tonight is not get blown out! I think it’ll be a closer game than the other three were, but the Spurs will prevail!!

  5. en. says:

    Out da first round for nothing smh

    • SPURSFAN says:

      And the reason they made it out of the first round is because they were up against a team that was defensively poor. Aldridge was able to do anything he wanted against the Rockets. There is no way he’s having a 40+ point game against the Spurs, let alone two straight.

  6. thespectator says:

    doesnt matter how much talent you have, its about experience, the spurs have multiple rings and have been in the playoffs consistently for a decade plus…a team like blazers just not gonna beat them. spurs has a deeper roster, an offense that thrives and moving the ball and forcing defenses to collapse and a coach who has a system that allows players to get the most out of their skillset and conserve their energy..and oh ya 4 rings…you cant beat that…but this is a great building block for the blazers, great season, im sure this defeat will motivate them to be better, to be successful in life you gotta get knocked down a few times, but remember to get back up

  7. Records were made to be broken..?Well,not against The Spurs with the present lineup.Keep dreaming.It`s possible Blazers snatch one game for pride at home,but not 2 in a row,especially at the home of “The United Spurs of America”…!

  8. jdub455 says:

    disappointing is what i can say with the blazers… it seems that they still dnt switch they way they played the rockets,,. esp on D… but really, the Spurs are a very very solid team and like i said before, spurs is the only team that can beat the champs 4x within 7 games…

  9. Patrick says:

    Portland might win a game or two but to win four in a row, is next to impossible…

  10. squala96 says:

    It’s more like Ripped City now, haha. It’s the most lopsided matchup so far, this one. The Blazers just ran out of steam after the unexpected win in the Rockets series. At least Houston would have had a genuine chance of beating the Spurs in this round. Well, that’s reality but thankfully, Lillard’s luck ran out right after that three-pointer that made them advance.

  11. eli says:

    I hope and pray that blazers will rise up like Phenix to win back the series against the spurs.
    I pray

  12. Marcus says:

    The problem is that the Spurs are too deep and too talented for the Blazers.

    For the Blazers to win a game, their starters need to score a minimum of 100 points combined. They have one of the weakest benches in the league, and that gets exposed in the playoffs.

    Playing 40+ minutes a game is tiring, and it’s starting to show for the Blazers. If Batum or Aldridge or Lillard do not play well, the Blazers will lose.

    But the Spurs are different. They are really deep, so even if someone isn’t playing well, they can still win. For example, the first game Duncan, Ginobili, and Green combined for 14 points, but the Spurs still won by 24 points. That’s because they have people like Belinelli, Diaw, and Patty Mills who can pick up the slack if someone isn’t doing well. Those 3 combined to score 35 points, and were a big reason the Spurs were able to win.

  13. TheKush says:

    It was a great season for the Blazers I had the spurs winning this series 4 – 1! Maybe they can history and come back but it will be tough. I think anyone that knows nba basketball could see this happening Terry Stotts runs a very tight rotation and in the playoffs you can easily be exposed if you do this and play an up and down game. If you have a tight rotation it’s better to play a Memphis style offense because players will tire out and that’s all I see happening. sure the spurs are making shots but even if they weren’t they’d have a good chance of winning because of their defense, their frequent substitutions and their coaching staffs ability to see the bigger picture. To beat the Spurs the Blazers have the throw the ball to LaMarcus Aldridge and work the offense around him. even if he messes up a few possessions just allow him to get comfortable with the the spurs defensive strategies. What I’m seeing is the blazers relying on their 3 point shooting and NOT their allstar. It’s the similar story with Indiana let Hibbert get comfortable and then work your offense around him. When your team doesn’t have a superstar player it’s best to work around your big in my opinion they play harder when they feel like they touch the ball on almost every possession it’s just a fact.