I recently said that the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers as having Seahawk-y traits that I can’t quite describe. Perhaps the best I can come up with is they’re a hybrid of the 2018 and 2012 Seattle squads. My brain is racing far too much for me to really get any deeper than “Zach Collins is a Legion of Boom defender playing NBA basketball” and “Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined are silencing their remaining doubters wrong much like Russell Wilson did in 2018.”
Anyway, the Blazers had the ultimate Pete Carroll era Seahawks trait of never giving up even when faced with an improbable task. In game 7 of the NBA Western Conference Semifinals, Portland fell behind by 17 points against the Denver Nuggets, who sported the NBA’s best home record at 34-7. Damian Lillard struggled with his shot, whereas CJ McCollum was brilliant. Portland rallied but still found themselves down by 1 point at the end of the 3rd quarter against a team that was 55-1 — yes, you read that right, 55-1 — when leading after three quarters this season.
Can you win the game in the first quarter?
Can you win the game in the second quarter?
Can you win the game in the third quarter?
Can you win the game in the fourth quarter?
The fourth quarter happened, and both Lillard and (especially) McCollum made some plays that looked like vintage Russell Wilson fourth quarter magic, but with some extra cold blood.
Portland prevailed 100-96, stunning the Denver crowd and sending the Blazers to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2000. No Jusuf Nurkic (broken leg in regular season), an injured and fasting Enes Kanter, no Rodney Hood in the 2nd half (hyperextended knee in game 7), and yet they pulled off their first ever game 7 road win in franchise history. Role players Collins and the much-maligned Evan Turner (who suddenly morphed into the NBA version of Jermaine Kearse with his clutch play) stepped up massively when called upon.
For those who have sworn off the NBA because they ripped the SuperSonics away from Seattle, I don’t blame you. But for those who either weren’t Sonics fans in the first place or have adopted the Blazers instead, this has been a truly special season that is an undeniable success regardless of what happens the rest of the way.
Game recognizes game, and the Seahawks extended their congratulations.
And some Seahawks players had their own reaction to Sunday’s thriller.
CJ cold blooded— Jamarco Jones (@jjones_74) May 12, 2019
I really want Portland to win but I think Denver has a better chance to beat the warriors— Jamarco Jones (@jjones_74) May 12, 2019
That boy cold!!!— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) May 12, 2019
Blazers!!! Yup!!!— Will Dissly (@Will_Diss) May 12, 2019
Of course we also have to acknowledge that Paul Allen owned both the Seahawks and Trail Blazers. The Seahawks dedicated the rest of their season in his honor, as they rallied from a 4-5 start to earn a playoff spot that many pundits thought preseason they wouldn’t get. For the Blazers, they were a fairly uninspiring 20-16 at the end of 2018. Since the calendar flipped to 2019, they are 41-17 (playoffs included). Much like the Seahawks last season, Portland is playing for Paul, and they are doing him proud.
Bring on the Golden State Warriors.