Around The World: May 5, 2014

batumatwmay5.jpg

Trail Blazers: Fan Reaction: Damian Lillard's Game 6 Game Winner

“What happened on May 2nd, 2014 will not be forgotten. Anyone and everyone will forever remember where they were, who they were with, and how they reacted when Damian Lillard's 3-pointer, with 0.9 seconds left on the clock, found nothing but the bottom of the net and sent your Trail Blazers to the Western Conference Semifinals for the first time in 14 years. And thanks to the technology of smartphones, a lot of the emotion was captured and placed on the internet where it will continue to live. We pulled down a few of the best ... Enjoy!”

Trail Blazers: Game 6 Mini-Movie

“The Trail Blazers are just now starting their first practice in San Antonio in preparation for Tuesday night’s Game 1 of versus the Spurs. But before we turn our sights to that game, check out Brandon Mitchell’s Game 6 mini-movie recapping Portland’s dramatic 99-98 series-winning victory versus the Rockets last Friday.”

Trail Blazers: Playoff Predictions: The Blazers Have Backers, But Spurs Still The Favorite

“While the experts are overwhelmingly picking the Spurs to win the series, there are way more people picking the Blazers to beat the Spurs in the second round than picked the Blazers to beat the Rockets in the first round. And of those picking the Spurs, many have them winning in seven games, which is to say they think this series is going to be close. Long story short, the Trail Blazers definately earned some respect for their gutty first-round performance.”

Trail Blazers: Trail Blazers On Advancing To Semifinals Before Heading To San Antonio

“I watched it maybe five to ten times. I’ve gotten so many videos of it sent to my phone. I watch it because every version is different. The thing I enjoyed the most about it was just seeing everybody react to it. You got to see how bad our team wanted to win that game. It wasn’t about me. You saw the coaches excited that we’re going to be moving on, my teammates running all over the floor, the crowd — I think a couple fans almost ran on the floor. I’m just happy that we was able to get that series done because the last thing we wanted to do was go back to Houston.”

Trail Blazers: Trail Blazers Vs. Spurs: A Look Back At The Season Series

“The Moda Center crowd, possibly while snacking on spicy peanut chicken wings or pork belly cubano sandwiches, got their first taste of what center Robin Lopez can bring to the Trail Blazers roster with a 12-point, six-rebound, two-block night. Lopez struggled mightily in Portland’s season-opening loss to the Suns and was better in their victory Friday night in Denver against the Nuggets, but his play in Saturday night’s victory was the first real glimpse of the best that Lopez has to offer.”

Oregon Live: Trail Blazers: Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum Relive Damian Lillard's Game 6 Dagger

"I still get goosebumps when I watch it again," Matthews said Sunday. "Even when I know what's going to happen. I still get mad when Chandler [Parsons] gets the tip. I still get nervous when Nic's inbounding the ball. It was special, special to be a part of."

Oregon Live: LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, And Wesley Matthews Relish Trail Blazers' Playoff Success After Years Of Failure And Frustration

“We can be something special,” Batum said. “Like I said, there’s the 1977 (championship) team. You have the early 1990s (and) the 2000 team. We can be the next team to make its mark in the history of the Blazers.”

Oregon Live: Quick: Trail Blazers Board Plane Sunday Harboring Enough Slights To Fuel Flight To San Antonio

"This paragraph in the March 9 story: “With apologies to Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez, who are so important to the team’s success, Aldridge, Lillard and Batum are the Blazers’ big three, the pillars who support the weight of expectations of this team. And those pillars need to become stronger.” “You basically said I wasn’t a core guy,’’ Matthews said. “That pissed me off.’’

Oregon Live: Day After Damian Lillard Hit Memorable Buzzer-Beater For Trail Blazers, He Celebrated In Surprising, Understated Fashion

“It’s over with now,” he said. “It’s not like the moment is going to go away. We haven’t gone past the first round in 14 years, so people won’t forget it. But our team, we’ve got to move on from it, and we’ve still got games to play. Our goal wasn’t to make a big shot and be happy with that. I think, if anything, that made us want to get more done.”

CSNNW: Batum Reflects On One-Sided Trash Talking Series; Lillard To Receive Huge Financial Bump For Advancing

“When a guy talks about you in the media, I just didn’t want to go back in the media,” Batum said. “I’m not a talker. My main goal was to win the series. In the playoffs, I’m not worried about who is the best small forward. I want to be the best team. They said they felt they were the best team. We didn’t talk about that. We just showed them. We’re the better team.”

Columbian: Blazers Take Time To Relax, Get Spurs For Next Round

"Now the excitement is starting to creep in," said Matthews. "We want to go out there and match-up and see where our destiny lies."

Rip City Project: San Antonio Spurs: Semifinals 3-Point Threat

"The Spurs boast six players spanning four positions that shoot above 40.0 percent from deep. Comparatively, their upcoming opponent in the Western Conference semifinals, the Portland Trail Blazers, has just one: Allen Crabbe (SG), who will see precisely 0 minutes of postseason playing time anyway. Although San Antonio doesn’t hoist 25.3 threes per game like Portland does (third-most in the league), they are more threatening from beyond the arc."

Rip City Project: Tim Duncan & Gregg Popovich: Advantage Of Experience

“There are two San Antonio pieces still in play 15 years later: 3x Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich and 14x NBA All-Star Tim Duncan. Everyone else is brand new (when was the last time you heard that about the Spurs?). Duncan may be about a zillion in basketball years (38), but he is still one of the best forwards in the league. He and Popovich are the biggest threats to Portland making it out of the Western Conference semifinals."

Blazersedge: Portland Trail Blazers Vs. San Antonio Spurs: Breaking Down The Series

“The performance of the Big Three in San Antonio's just-completed first-round matchup with Dallas was a mixed bag. Duncan excelled, carrying his team at certain points like he did a decade ago. Parker shot poorly but managed to lead the team in scoring anyway, upping his shot attempts considerably. Ginobili did the same, increasing his three-point attempts in particular. In aggregate this created more of a focus on "star" play than was customary for the Spurs during the season coupled with slightly less efficiency. It worked for them, which is all they care about, but outside of the deciding 7th game it was hardly the finest demonstration of Spurs basketball.’’

My San Antonio: Blazers A Matchup Problem For Spurs?

“For one, Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge who averaged 29.8 points and 11.2 rebounds in the first round series against the Rockets. In three games this season against the Spurs, Aldridge averaged 21.3 points and 8.0 rebounds. "

ESPN Daily Dime

"That was a great warm-up, if I can call it a warm-up," said Tony Parker after a brilliant Game 7, scoring 14 of his 32 points in the first quarter as the Spurs jumped on the Mavs early and never looked back. "It was tough to play them. Because you know that Dirk is one of the best ever and Monta Ellis played great in that series. So it's going to be pretty much the same -- Aldridge and Lillard in pick-and-rolls."

ESPN: Updated NBA Title Odds

"Put the Blazers in the East and they'd have an excellent chance to reach the NBA Finals. Out West, despite an impressive series against the Houston Rockets, they appear to be a cut below the other semifinalists. Portland matches up well with all three teams; they split with the Spurs and Thunder and beat the Clippers 2-1 during the regular season, but come up short in terms of point differential.’’

ESPN: Postseason Rewind And Fast-Forward

"Damian Lillard's incredible game winner. The home team down by two with less than a second left, and a deep 3 wins the series? It just doesn't happen, and Portland's reaction was beautiful. The previous series-winning buzzer-beater was 17 years ago, yet as soon as the second-year point guard caught the ball, you somehow knew he'd make it."

Grantland: How Russell Westbrook And Blake Griffin Will Define Clips-Thunder

“Westbrook is undeniably a problematic player, though it’s hard to untangle his individual warts from those of Scott Brooks and the Thunder’s woefully uncreative offensive non-system. He takes some irresponsible shots, some of which are little more than blind flings tossed so hard they endanger the integrity of the backboard. He is almost frighteningly hyperactive, shooting just before a play really develops because he can’t help it, throwing himself into transition chances that aren’t there, and crashing the offensive glass when he should probably get back on defense. He has become perhaps the league’s worst leg kicker on jump shots, wildly star-fishing his limbs in blatant (and too often successful) attempts to draw fouls on stupid shots.”

ESPN: The Clippers' Two-Man Game

"I don't think there's clashes when you're trying to win," said Rivers, now in his first year coaching the Clippers. "I think there's clashes when you're trying to be the leader of the team. I think all the clashes go away when everybody's on board about winning. I think the clashes start when the individual stuff's more important than the team stuff. You need individual egos to be great, but it can never be more important than the team."

TrueLosAngeles: Sterling's Shadow Finally Lifted From Clips

“There’s never a bad time for racial prejudice to be exposed and extinguished, and the timing on Sterling’s comments coming out seemed to vindicate those who brought their umbrellas out even though the weather (of course) looked great. Any follower of Sterling’s past transgressions knew he was liable to do something incredibly damaging to the franchise just by being himself, and this was it, with the Clippers fresh off a win and looking like title contenders for the first time in franchise history.”

CNNSI: NBA Playoffs Preview: Spurs-Blazers Series Promises Fireworks

"Offensively, Portland will need to continue to receive A-level efforts from Aldridge and Lillard. The Houston series proved that Aldridge requires an entire defense's attention when he's on (wins in Games 1, 2, 4, 6), and that Portland has a hard time keeping up when he's not (losses in Games 3 and 5). Even before his memorable game-winner, the 23-year-old Lillard was the early favorite for breakout star of the playoffs. He's been lethal from three-point range (48.9 percent) and kept a steady hand managing Portland's offense (6.7 assists to 2.3 turnovers)."

CNNSI: Three-Pointers: Spurs Roll To A Game 7 Win Over Mavs With Decisive First Half

"The Trail Blazers will be an entirely different challenge in the conference semifinals. Parallels can be drawn between the base offenses of the Mavs and Blazers, but the second round allows the Spurs to reset with all of the contextual experience of this first-round matchup. Besides, if an argument could be made that Portland might challenge San Antonio in the same way Dallas did, wouldn’t Game 7 itself stand as an emphatic argument to the contrary? That’s not to say that the Spurs will run the Blazers off the floor in the same fashion — simply that these things are more complicated than basic similarities might suggest. San Antonio will need to play better to advance, but that seems very possible given the Portland matchup."

Ball Don't Lie: Philadelphia 76ers' Michael Cater-Williams Wins 2013-14 Rookie Of The Year In Landslide Vote

“After winning four out of a possible six Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors this season, Carter-Williams was far and away the most popular choice among award voters. He received 104 of a possible 124 first-place votes from ballot-casting sportswriters and broadcasters, while tallying 569 total points — you get five points for a first-place vote, three for a second-place nod, and one for third place — to outpace second-place finisher Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic (16 first-place votes, 364 total points) and third-place rookie Trey Burke of the Utah Jazz (one first-place vote, 96 total points).”

Ball Don't Lie: Ball Don't Lie's 2014 Playoff Previews, Featuring The Indiana Pacers And Washington Wizards

“The Pacers could win this in five, or even four, but these are going to be close games throughout. Both Indiana and Washington can rely on the first- and third-game bump from their respective home crowds, but that sort of momentum should dissipate by the second quarter. Nobody is blowing out anyone in this series unless the shots fall badly short, or unless one side decides to give up. Otherwise, you’ll have a pitched street battle between two teams that love to defend, and dig working from the inside-out in spite of All-Star talent on the “out” side of things.”

Ball Don't Lie: Ball Don't Lie's 2014 NBA Playoff Previews, Featuring The Oklahoma City Thunder And Los Angeles Clippers

“Because of the potential seven-game term and space to breathe, this could come down to a coaching duel, which would bode well for Los Angeles – in spite of Rivers’ admitted fatigue in the face of the hardest first-round series any NBA head coach has ever had to work through. Scott Brooks absolutely has to come up with something these Clippers haven’t seen before, and he cannot force Durant and Westbrook into saving this series on their own. There has to be a surprise, somewhere. There has to be a Thunder wrinkle that we’ve never taken in.”

Hang Time Blog: Win-Or-Go-Home Weekend

“Among West playoff teams, only the Mavs entered the postseason with a worse defensive rating than the Blazers. So Stotts will have a keen interest in studying Dallas’ film to see how a season-long turnstile defense successfully choked off San Antonio’s lethal 3-point game, and limited the Spurs’ precision offensive attack to 93 points or fewer in three of the first four games. The Mavs had the series split 2-2 at that point, and felt they could have commanded a 3-1 lead.”

SLAM: Post-Up: Not Extinct Yet

“No doubt Joe Johnson will be the focal point of Miami’s scouting reports. JJ was easily the series MVP, the Nets’ most consistent force, and the Raptors’ most frustrating mark. They threw every defender they had at him for seven games, and he dealt away with them all. Iso Joe made his final, devastating mark on the series in the fourth quarter, when he registered 13 of his 26 points on the night.”