Playoff loss now motivation for Blazers


VIDEO: Spurs dismiss Blazers in five games to reach West finals

This was months ago, and yesterday.

The Trail Blazers still feel it from May, still talk about that moment in San Antonio, what it was like to walk off the court the final time and what it will mean when they walk back on the court the next time. New season, same memories.

Portland is forgetting nothing from the playoff exit, and not just because the black-and-blue mark the Spurs left won’t allow it. More like because the Trail Blazers don’t want to. Keeping it close is the whole idea.

That won’t take much doing — it is close. Months later, they’re┬ástill talking about how the emotional high from the successful regular season and the rush of a 4-2 win over the Rockets in the first round despite not having home-court advantage gave way to feeling like roadkill after the 4-1 elimination at the hands of the Spurs. Months later, they’re still wanting to feel it for many more months, from training camp and into the new schedule.

“Our entire team enjoyed having a taste of success, not only in the regular season but in the playoffs and winning in the first round,” coach Terry Stotts said. “The fact that San Antonio not only beat us, but how they beat us and how they won the championship I think gave us the motivation to know that there’s a lot for us still to achieve and what we have to do to achieve it.”

How they beat us.

Game 1: Spurs 116, Trail Blazers 92. Twenty-four points.

Game 2: Spurs 114, Trail Blazers 97. Seventeen points.

Game 3: Spurs 118, Trail Blazers 103. Fifteen points.

Game 4: Trail Blazers: 103, Spurs 92. Avoiding the sweep, avoiding being eliminated at home.

Game 5: Spurs 104, Trail Blazers 82. Twenty-two points.

“We took some big losses,” said Meyers Leonard, a reserve center. “I think that we could have been much closer. But it was our first time, so I think we just have to realize we are that good of a team. We can compete with those teams. I think that’s what’s going to stick with us. We know that we’re more than capable. But they came out and came at us right away and we were kind of like, ‘Whoa.’ Now we just have to realize that we are at that level and we have to maintain that level or teams that have been there and done that will put us away.”

That the Spurs proved to be the team of the entire season and not just that series makes the Blazers look better in retrospect … but not feel better. Not when the gulf was that large and the memory that strong.

So 1-4 becomes motivation for the weight-lifting sessions the rest of the summer, the extra time in the film room in training camp, and then for real. Opening night, Oct. 29, is at home against the Thunder, an immediate test. But so is the entire first leg of the schedule, a gauntlet of the Thunder, Kings on the road, Warriors, Cavaliers, Mavericks, and Clippers on the road.

Even if the Trail Blazers have enough to worry about in October and November without reaching back to May, they will probably be keeping the end of 2013-14 close. That’s the plan right now. That’s the feeling right now, and maybe for a while.

26 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    Blazers are overrated? HA! That’s laughable. You are talking about a team that was predicted to barely make the playoffs and was unanimously picked by the experts to lose in the first round.
    Houston was terrible defensively (as was the Blazers) and the refs called the game like it should be called in the playoffs. Harden’s flopping @$$ just didn’t know how to adjust his game accordingly. He just kept on flopping after every single shot. Notice when he shoots a three with no one around him half the time he is on his butt.
    Portland has arguably one of the best starting 5s in the NBA, and anyone who wants to disagree with that does not watch NBA basketball. The fact is, and others have said it, they have a weak bench. I think players like Thomas Robinson and Will Barton have shown flashes of being great additions, and Chris Kaman is a huge pickup. CJ McCollum is also an incredible scorer, so as far as I’m concerned the Blazers are one great backup small forward away from championship caliber.
    Just one man’s opinion.

  2. 54TONE says:

    yall are forgetting the spurs beat Miami 4-1 also.

    the blazers are not a fluke lol.

    and the refs were not making unfair calls in the Houston series… james hardens whole game is flopping.. everytime he shoots the ball he jerks his head like he took a hit. that team is pathetic.

  3. Robert says:

    Blazers stole that series vs Houston….thanks to the refs. The NBA apologized in each Houston loss because of referees bad calls. The clock had a late start in Game 6 buzzer beater. Doesnt take .9sec to catch turn and shoot

  4. Sterling says:

    I think the Blazers had a good season. They started strong and ran into some good teams in the playoffs. Dismissing one of the new top teams (Houston). I think that the Thunder (I am a die hard Thunder fan) and the Spurs were too experienced and too tested to fail in these playoffs. Next year the Blazers will get stronger, but the top two will be Spurs and Thunder and will more than likely rematch in the West finals. The Blazers need a good small forward to go with Aldridge and their PG. They are a good one two punch, but that will only get you so far. They need a third superstar to move to the next level. Even a defense stopper at either the two or the three position will help them get over the hump. MAYBE

    • Finnybin says:

      The blazers have Nicolas Batum at the sf he averaged around 13pts 7rb 5ast 1.5stl 1b he is our third best player and is a great defender because of his length

      Wesley Mathews is a defensive stopper ask anyone

      The blazers don’t need to improve their starting lineup we need a better bench

      We have improved our bench considerably this year

      We signed Chris Kaman and Steve Blake while CJ McCollum and Tomas Robinson both have another year under their belt and while Robinson will only play about 7 minutes a game CJ McCollum will play 20 as he proved last year that he is a great scorer willing to play of the bench

      Look I don’t mean to insult you but you have no idea what you are talking about kid

  5. nate says:

    PPl outside the northwest don’t even realize Portland had the same record as Miami, playing in the west and having there best player miss a long strech.

  6. Spurs fan says:

    ! Go Spurs Go !

  7. en. says:

    Overrratttteeedddd team…only got lucky with houston …

  8. johnlpoetry says:

    They will come back to earth just like the Suns. Both had fluke, good seasons. Not this upcoming season however.

    • rico says:

      …the spurs have been an elite team for two staright decades and your saying last season was a fluke…?

  9. A says:

    Blazer fan here:

    I am very happy with what Blazers accomplished, as who couldn’t be. There is absolutely no shame in losing to the Spurs for the Blazers. They had a great run in the season, and now it is about looking forward and being better next season. With some improvement from Will Barton or CJ McCollum, Blazers will be ready to compete with the Thunder and Spurs I think.

    • TTKIN says:

      I think the development of Thomas Robinson is hugely important too. That dude has the potential to be a beast.

  10. john says:

    Spurs :)

  11. Jimmy says:

    I agree with you guys. But I kinda see why they still have that bitter taste in their mouths. Even though the Mavs weren’t gonna beat the Spurs, they pushed them to the limit better than any other team and they were a lower seed than Portland themselves. The Blazers lost by more then 20 in 3 losses and 15 in the other. They probably just didn’t want to get blown out in every lost. They would’ve been happier losing by single digits and looking more competitive than what they were, just like Miami. Lol

  12. mike jordan says:

    the mavericks I thought could win it all, if they have advanced..there are the closest to beating the spurs..@franz, yeah the spurs went to the playoffs with the sense of revenge..

  13. Rik man says:

    Portland trailblazers will be a better team than last season but not better than the champion spurs who will repeat this up coming season!

  14. Derek says:

    Not to mention, they were without their backup PG Mo William for the first 3 games of the series due to injury. The series was still to be won by the Spurs, but Portland may very well have been the 3rd best team in the ENTIRE LEAGUE last year. Personally, I had OKC and SA as the only 2 teams better, with MIA and POR tied. PORTLAND is building something SPECIAL.

    • johnlpoetry says:

      Man the Blazers snuck up on teams! 3rd best!? Surely your homerism is bolstered through rose petal shades. They’ll be lucky to be the 7th or 8th seed.

      • nate says:

        Portland had the same record as Miami. and they play in the west!

      • Moe says:

        From a Spurs Fan I believe blazers will be a fourth or fifth seed. They are a young team with very little playoff experience. They will only get better. For Houston they got worse and will either make the playoffs as a 7 or 8 seed. They lost their depth at the 1 and 5. Houston is a mediocre team and only goes as far as second rd. This team as of now is a pretender not a contender.

  15. Franz says:

    No team was going to beat the Spurs last season. They were on a mission from the get-go.

  16. Bonesdiferous says:

    They shouldn’t feel bad about their losses at all. Look at what the Spurs went on to do to the Heat. They were a stellar team on a mission. Blazers should chalk it up as experience and grow from it.

    • Just Sayin' says:

      they should do what the spurs did when they lost to miami, work hard during the summer, get focused at the start of the season and finish strong. come playoff time they will have the proper mindset and huge motivation to beat the spurs.