Two Worried Teams
The Portland Trail Blazers have been an utter disappointment this postseason, facing a possible 0-3 deficit in their series against the Memphis Grizzlies if they lose tonight. The last time they lost their first two playoff games was back in 2011 to the Dallas Mavericks; who ultimately won the championship that year. Like in 2011, Portland seems like their just being outplayed, and the Grizzlies are just taking it to them. But my question is this; where is Damian Lilliard? In the first two games, Lilliard has shot a combined 10/37 from the field and 1/11 from three……
I’m shocked. Damian has been pretty much a shell of himself and really hasn’t been the same since his All-Star snub and his vow to prove critics wrong. As a fan, I hope he comes back strong in Game 3 because with his team facing a lot of injuries, they’ll need all the help they can get because LaMarcus Aldridge can’t do it alone.
The Toronto Raptors like Portland, are facing uphill battle; trying to come back from a 0-3 deficit, two in which they lost on their home court. Washington has all the momentum up 3-0 in the series. Things aren’t looking too bright for this Raptor team, and according to ESPN Stats and Info, the Raptors have a 16% chance to advance past the Wizards in this series.
This is very surprising to me, especially since Toronto had the upper hand during their three match-ups during the regular season. However, the difference between then and now is health. Kyle Lowry has been fighting non-stop with injuries all year and now at the time where his team needs him the most, he’s not where he needs to be. He’s been battling back problems all season to go along with the hand and hamstring injuries he’s faced in the past two months. And to top that off, he suffered a shin contusion in a collision with Paul Pierce during Game 2. Things haven’t got easier for Lowry as he’s now dealing with a cold, and if you look at the numbers, all of this is effecting him on the court. In the first three games, Lowry has shot 10/42 only contributing 28 points. Toronto needs more production out of him if they want to prevent an ugly flameout; lets see if he can overcome the adversity and lead his team to a victory.
Awards – 6th Man of the Year & Defensive Player of the Year
The fans of Toronto were singing, “LOOOUUUUUUU” this past week as Lou Williams was awarded the 6th Man of the Year, which wasn’t surprising. My pick for the award was Isaiah Thomas, of the Boston Celtics, but I was satisfied with Lou taking it. Williams received 78 of the possible 130 first place votes so it was pretty much a landslide. He averaged 15.5 points per game, becoming one of their main sources of scoring during the injury of DeMar DeRozan. Williams also led the league with the most games of 25 points or more off the bench this season with 11. Even though Thomas averaged more points per game and had huge importance to his team, Williams played a major part as well and his numbers speak for themselves.
Now if you want to talk about being snubbed; ask Draymond Green. I believe he got snubbed for the Defensive Player of the Year award. Kawhi Leonard was announced as the winner this week making him the third player ever to win Finals MVP and DPOY; joining legends Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only ones to accomplish that feat. However with all this being said, Green received the most 1st place votes with 45, but Leonard won overall having 333 vs. Green’s 317. I’m not trying to discredit anything that Kawhi has done because I know how much he means to the Spurs and his main focus is defense but when you talk about being the backbone of the #1 ranked defense in the league, that says it all right there! Draymond is the heart and soul of what the Golden State Warriors do on defense and I believe that he should’ve been the one hoisting that trophy up this week.
Moves Being Made
Scott Brooks was relieved of his duties as coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder and even though there were rumors spreading during the season, I was actually surprised when it happened. I understand that sometimes you want change and to bring some new life to the team but we’re talking about a coach that has been nothing but successful since he’s been with OKC.
This season has been the first season that they haven’t made the playoffs since ’08-09 but when you think about why, the only reason was because of injuries. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had both been battling injuries all year, not to mention Serge Ibaka who was shelved for the season down the stretch with a knee issue.
The Thunder had never really been at full strength during the season so the chances of them being successful were very slim. At full strength, many people, including myself had them at them at the top of the West battling for the first seed with the Golden State Warriors.
It blows my mind to see someone let go like this because looking back, what chance did Brooks really have this season? Not to mention, Brooks had huge trust and chemistry with Durant, Westbrook and the rest of his players. But I must say, Sam Presti and the rest of the organization better tread slowly going forward. Within the next two years, both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have the option to leave, so if Presti doesn’t choose the correct coach, the Thunder could possibly be saying bye to two of their best players.