Kawhi took a bunch of shots. 40 if you were counting. But it was only one shot that mattered, a cinematic, I’ve seen that in a movie somewhere clank, clank , clank, yep it’s in. Cue bedlam.
Losing sucks. You cry and cry. Yep it’s over Joel Embiid. All the trash talking. All the front runner look at me. Embiid didn’t have a good series. At times, he was regular season Embiid, but he didn’t dominate on the block. The Sixers offense was confused partly because Ben Simmons isn’t a threat and it hurts spacing. The Sixers need a Big 3, not a Big 2.5.
Analytics took it on the chin. For all the boasting about 3 is better than 2, in the Sunday Game 7’s, the teams shot 21% from three. It was this lack of 3-point shooting that kept the games close so the stars could do what stars do.
Speaking of stars. C.J. McCollum did his best Kobe-MJ thing. Mid-range jumpers. Stepback pullups. Floaters. Driving to the rim. He was unguardable. He’s versatility makes it impossible to defend because- unlike Harden- you don’t know what he is going to do. He can get to any space on the floor. So. You’re guessing. He kept the Blazers in the game and in the second half took it over. C.J. is a big time pressure player.
Damian Lillard struggled but it didn’t much matter. He got into the lane and rebounded. He made the right play. He is willing to let his teammates shine when they have it going. He’s not into proving that he is the star. He knows he’s the star. It’s about making plays that win.
Evan Turner had the last laugh. All the hate about his contract and he came up big in the moment that counted. He was physical inside. He was gritty. He had no fear about Game 7. He gets it. It’s not about scoring. He’s not talented like that. But he can make plays. He can set a tone. He can keep possessions alive.
Jimmy Buckets not so much. It’s hard to predict what Butler is going to do in the offseason. He was inconsistent with his shot against Toronto but played hard which is what he does. But if you’re using the Eastern semis to judge how much of the Brinks truck to back up, it’s a guessing game.
Everyone will be a lot happier if they accept that Kyle Lowry is a 4-13 playoff performer. If you accept that is his playoff normal, you won’t waste breath talking about Lowry’s mental game. He makes plays for others and plays to win but he is a number two option, nothing more than that. Don’t get confused by his $30 million salary.
When will Terry Stotts get some credit? He changed his lineup. Then he lost Rodney Hood to injury. No matter. Insert Mo Harkless, trust that everyone in red knows what time it is. Stotts created plays for C.J. He does as much Strength In Numbers as the Warriors. The players are all connected and the Blazers have great chemistry. It starts with the coach.
Bench play matters in a game 7. The Blazers outscored the Nuggets bench 29-17 and the Raptors outscored the Sixers 21-8. It’s not just the stars that are responsible for figuring out how to win a game 7 in dramatic fashion.
Ibaka showed up. He was huge. So was Zach Collins.
Road teams don’t feel the pressure. They feed off the energy of a Game 7. The pressure is on the home team. They are supposed to win. And then they tighten up as the games goes down the stretch and the score is within 5 points.
The NBA is still the winner of drama. The Blazers came back from a 17 point whipping and the Raptors had a buzzer beater to send them to the ECF. It’s madness. Not March. But May.