The Western Conference semifinal series between the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers has been very good. It was hectic and tight through the first four games, then Denver landed a heavy blow with a Game 5 wipeout. Thursday night the Blazers responded, surging ahead in the second quarter, expanding their lead out to 14 points, and staying mostly at arm’s length the rest of the way for a 119–108 victory. C.J. McCollum was excellent, Rodney Hood put up another impressive performance, and Damian Lillard gave us the first Damian Lillard Game of this series. Hey, please enjoy some Lillard highlights:
There’ll be a Game 7 in Denver on Sunday, which should be a delight, and frankly is maybe a little more than we deserve. Nikola Jokic has been legitimately phenomenal in these playoffs (he put up another hyper-efficient 29 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists in Thursday’s loss); Lillard has already had a legend-making moment; Jamal Murray is oozing with wing sauce. Perhaps I am projecting, here, but the Trail Blazers, of all the teams to make it to the second round, seem like the team that is the most determined to fight off elimination. They’re somewhat less talented, top to bottom, than the other teams to advance out of the first round, but they are relentless, and nearly every time they find themselves in a jam, Lillard and McCollum just start throwing in insane and acrobatic shots from all over the gym, in something like a state of defiant rage. Look at this lunatic action right here, from two moments when the Nuggets got too close for comfort:
What I am saying is, this series, between two relative outsiders to the land of title contention, is something for sports fans to celebrate! But don’t take my word for it—here is ostensible sports fan Mike Francesa, whose job it is to talk about sports with other sports fan, just ranting and raving about the uhh “good job” these teams are doing:
“No issue there.” It is undeniably great and hilarious how little sports Mike Francesa actually watches, and how much he obviously fucking hates having to pretend otherwise. Don’t miss Game 7!