As you're reading this, the Trail Blazers are either behind 0-2 or tied 1-1 with the Golden State Warriors in their second round playoff series. Whatever the reality, I have to admit that, as a fan, there's a tiny bit of "just happy to be here" going on.
The fact that this team has spent the entire season defying expectations does give me some sense of WELL, YOU NEVER KNOW. Anytime someone says, "They can't beat the Warriors" I think, "Well, you're probably right, but we also thought they couldn't beat the Clippers last week. A month ago we thought they couldn't beat the Rockets. A month before that we thought they couldn't beat the Jazz. At the beginning of the season we thought they couldn't beat that guy at the 24 Hour Fitness on Sandy who vapes while he shoots free throws along with four guys named Ivan."
Still, as hopeful as I am, and as much as I believe in this team, I can't escape my visceral reaction. Every time Al-Farouq Aminu misses a three-pointer from the corner, I don't get upset, I just think, "I'M STILL SO PROUD OF YOU!" If somebody rips a rebound away from Ed Davis, I'm not pissed at Ed Davis, I just think about what a journey it's been for him to get all the way to this second round. How many mountains does one man have to climb? Call me a bad Blazer fan if you want (be forewarned, I will literally kill your entire family and everyone you've ever loved), but I can't escape these feelings of "That'll do, pig."
The Trail Blazers themselves, though, certainly don't feel those feelings. I don't think there's ever been a challenge that Damian Lillard didn't think he could conquer. If he had to, Damian Lillard would run a marathon in Birkenstocks and toe socks. Damian Lillard would enter the Kentucky Derby in one of those two-man horse costumes with Tim Frazier in the back. Damian Lillard would try to film an entire season of Man vs. Food on his way home from Thanksgiving dinner.
I realize that CJ McCollum looks startlingly like Stefan Urquelle, but unlike the universally treasured American sitcom Family Matters, there's nothing funny about his game. CJ plays with the impossible grace, whimsy, and inescapable doom of a Kill Bill-era Quentin Tarantino character. CJ plays like he confronted something far worse than Klay Thompson in his past, and whatever it was now lies dead in a cave somewhere. He is defiant. The entire team is defiant. They're like a team of Green Berets marching deep into Nazi territory, each relying on their particular set of skills—I'm not calling the Golden State Warriors Nazis, by the way. However, they're definitely one of those cartoon organizations based on the Nazis, but without the genocide—impossibly daunting, and ruthlessly efficient. And this is all without fucking Steph Curry.
Jesus. Do the Trail Blazers have what it takes to do the impossible? It doesn't matter what I think, it doesn't matter what you think, and we know what they think. I'll see you at the Rose Garden on Saturday.