Western Conference 1st Round
Chicago Bulls vs. Portland Trail Blazers
By having the third best regular season record in the Western Conference the Blazers drew the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. The three game series would prove to be the Blazers most challenging on their run to the title.
The Blazers had swept the season series with Chicago 4-0. Though the Bulls finished the season with a flurry of victories, winning 20 of their last 24 games.
There was no jitters for this team playing in the franchise’s first playoff game ever, the Blazers came out strong and took the first game 96-83 behind a very typical 28 assists as a team. Flying back east to Chicago, Bulls center Artis Gilmore and a riotous crowd of 20,000 at Chicago Stadium helped the Bulls rebound to win a very physical game, 104-101. With the final game of the series returning to Portland, the Blazers were on the brink of elimination.
Blazers’ fans packed the Memorial Coliseum for Game Three, the arena was deafening. The game went back and forth with several lead changes late in the game. This game, just as Game Two, was very physical. Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas and Dave Twardzik had fouled out in the 4th quarter.
The team would have to turn to someone else to take the big shot. With the Blazers only leading 100-98 late in the 4th quarter, Coach Ramsey called on shooting guard Lionel Hollins to take the big shot. Hollins hit a jumper as the shot clock expired propelling the Trail Blazers into the second round and a match up with the explosive Denver Nuggets.
In the locker room following the win, Herm Gilliam asked Coach Ramsey, “Coach, how come you picked Lionel to take that shot?” Ramsey answered in his usual calmness, “Herm, I knew he was going to make it.”*
Quotes from Rip City! A Quarter Century with the Portland Trail Blazers