- The Portland Trail Blazers are one win away from advancing to the second round of the NBA playoffs, a big comeback from an embarrassing first-round sweep to an underdog last year.
- Blazers guard C.J. McCollum said that the Blazers lost so early last year that he went to Europe to see his brother play.
- McCollum said he told his brother this year that he won’t be making it back in time to see him.
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The Portland Trail Blazers had one of the ugliest playoff exits last season, getting swept by the lower-seeded New Orleans Pelicans in the first round.
Many in the NBA world wondered if they should break up their star back-court of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to look for other avenues of improving. Instead, they kept the team together, and one year later, they are up 3-1 on the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team most deemed as the better of the two, on the verge of advancing to the second round.
On Sunday, after a 111-98 Game 4 win over Oklahoma City, McCollum gave a great answer about the Blazers’ comeback from the “embarrassing” sweep and the vow he made to his brother this year.
“We got swept last year. It was really embarrassing,” McCollum said. “And everybody talked about it. It was on TV every day. I went on TV, and they talked about us getting swept. They talked about me getting traded. They talked about how we can’t win together. All that stuff – we remember it. We understand that feeling of going home early. I was able, fortunately, to fly to Europe to see my brother play because the season ended so early.
“I told him this year; I ain’t going to be able to make it.”
Blazers' CJ McCollum: "We got swept last year. It was on TV every day. They talked about me getting traded, how we can't win together. I was able to fly to Europe to see my brother play because the season ended so early. I told him this year, I ain't going to be able to make it." pic.twitter.com/5Vo0a0TgVd
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 22, 2019
McCollum has been a big part of the Blazers’ success so far in the first round. He’s averaged 26 points, 6 rebound, and 4 assists on 46% shooting, 51% from three through four games. Lillard gets the lion’s share of the attention as the team’s superstar player, but McCollum has been a star in his own right.
The Blazers are now in a great position. They’re one win away from advancing to the second round, where they would play the winner of the Denver Nuggets-San Antonio Spurs series. Neither team has distinguished themselves or looked the part of a true contender in that series.
There’s a world where the Blazers make the Western Conference Finals, a huge rebound from one of the worst playoff exits in recent memory. They still have work to do, but barring a collapse versus the Thunder, it seems fair to say that the team doesn’t plan on breaking up their core any time soon.
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