Winning 10 games in a row is difficult at any level. It is especially difficult in professional leagues like the NBA. Multiple teams have done it this season but none may be as impressive as this current streak that the Portland Trail Blazers are on. Led by superstar point guard Damian Lillard, the Blazers have used their 10 game win streak (that includes beating the Golden State Warriors twice) to push themselves up to the number three seed in the Western Conference.
Damian Lillard has been playing unconscious through their win streak. Lillard has been averaging 32.5 points per game over the streak and, since the start of March, he is shooting 47% from deep.
Lillard’s side kick, C.J. McCollum, has also performed very well during the Blazers streak. He has actually been even better than Lillard from beyond the arc by hitting half of his shots; that is no exaggeration. But just how good is this team?
Lillard and McCollum have been ,and will continue to be, great but, basketball is still a team sport and the Blazers won’t win anything by making Lillard and McCollum carry the team on their back. Lucky for them, other guys on Portland have decided to step up.
Players like Jusuf Nurkic, Shabazz Napier, and Al-Farouq Aminu have been main contributors to the Blazers win streak. Nurkic has been getting boards like nobody’s business, Napier has been great scoring option off the bench, and Aminu’s length has helped him become a solid defender in the NBA but, does that make them a title contender? Sorry Blazer fans but it’s more likely than not that Portland doesn’t make the NBA Finals.
Don’t get me wrong Portland is a good team but it is going to be hard for them to keep up with Houston and Golden state. Yes they beat Golden State twice on this streak, but the Warriors were without Steph Curry for their latest matchup. Also important to remember is the fact that it is still the regular season.
The Rockets look determined and poised to lock up the number one seed in the West while the Warriors could care less about where they are in the standings because they know how good they are. Could that lead to their downfall? Maybe, but I doubt it comes at the hands of the Blazers. Do you really think Steph Curry shoots 30% from deep (like he did against Portland) in a 7 game series? No Shot. Do you think Lillard and McCollum are going to continue shooting 50% from three? Sounds great, but very improbable.
I would love to see the Blazers make it the Finals. It would break the narrative that only “super-teams”, like the Warriors or the LeBron led Heat, can make the finals.
But there is a reason those teams make it and it’s just plain old talent. Anyone anywhere will pick Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson over Dame, McCollum, and Nurkic.
As cool as this 10 game win streak is, the Western Conference is still a two horse race that the Blazers are not a part of. The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors are the two best teams in the West, maybe even the NBA, and will likely meet in the Western Conference Finals sadly kicking Portland out of the playoffs along the way.
-Jarrod Ribaudo (@Jribs53)