Sport The Blazers are somehow the No. 3 seed in the West. Just how good are they?
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Killian Tillie scored 22 points and No. 6 Gonzaga raced away to its sixth straight West Coast Conference title with a 74-54 victory over BYU on Tuesday night. Gonzaga (30-4) appeared as if it would lock into a defensive battle with BYU (24-10). The Zags turned it into a title-game rout with a halftime-spanning 36-6 run to win their 17th WCC title.BOX SCORE: GONZAGA 74, BYU 54Zach Norvell Jr. had 17 points and the Bulldogs held BYU to 35 percent shooting to win their 17th straight conference tournament game.
and C.J. McCollum sat down with ESPN’s Chris Haynes for a conversation that aired on SportsCenter early Tuesday. The dynamic duo of guards were genuinely confused by Haynes’ disbelief that Portland could be the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
Coming up on the 1am et— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) ... Sitting down w/ &
Haynes: What you guys have been doing as of lately, I didn’t anticipate you guys being anywhere even close
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McCollum: What did you anticipate, Chris? While we’re at it.
Lillard: That’s a great question.
Haynes: Third place? I anticipated seventh, eighth seed. No way did I ever expect you guys to be at this point right now.
Many of us share Haynes’ sentiments.
The Portland Trail Blazers have been the most unlikely success story coming out of the Western Conference. They’re 10 games behind theand 12 games behind the , but the Trail Blazers have created some separation between themselves and the wild stampede that is the playoff scrap between seeds No. 4 (Oklahoma City) and 10 (yes, San Antonio).
We understand Lillard and McCollum are one of the best backcourts in the league. They combine for nearly 49 points and 10 assists per game. Only James Harden andaverage more points per game as a starting backcourt than Portland’s one-two punch. The only other two-man tandem who have accounted for a higher percentage of their team’s points are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks.
F-18 fighter jet crashes into water near Key West
"It was going in to land, and all of a sudden, the whole thing flipped sideways and I saw a fireball," witness Barbie Wilson told CBS News . "Then the plane just dropped out of the sky."Wilson said the Navy does training flights from the base "all the time." She said she called 911 immediately but she didn't see anyone eject. The Naval Air Station at Key West is the southernmost base in the continental U.S. Jon Miller contributed reporting.
We understand last season’sacquisition gave the Trail Blazers a new dynamic with a scoring threat in the low post. We understand is a disciple of , and we understand that Portland has enough depth on the wings (Mo Harkless, Al-farouq Aminu, and ) to throw different looks at opponents on both ends.
But No. 3 in the West? Few, if anyone, could have seen this coming.
If you ask Lillard or McCollum like Haynes did, however, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks.
“What we have accomplished so far, they’re gonna look at it like it’s a fluke,” Lillard said. “It seems like they would rather address it later. Like, ‘alright, we’ll see about it. ... But those other teams weren’t expected to be where they are. So they don’t have to mention us.”
“I think the proof is in the pudding,” McCollum added. “This is my fifth year in the league, and this is gonna be our fifth year making the playoffs. So that’s one. Two is to continue to build on how we’ve played the last five years. So getting more wins, getting out of the first round, getting out of the second round. I think once you consistently do those things, then your perception changes a lot.
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“You can argue all the things in the world, but you can’t argue wins and losses.”
Those are good quotes and all, but we still have a question that has gone unanswered:
Are the Portland Trail Blazers a legitimate No. 3 seed?
The Trail Blazers are a talented team powered by the second-best offensive back court in the world and a surprisingly strong defense. There are no knocks against Portland.
It’s just a fact that most of their West competition have lost key personnel.
The, for example, have been without for all but nine games and lost for 23. They are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in 20 years.
Therecently lost to a torn meniscus and have gone 3-4 since his injury. The watched their defense regress from top of the class to middle of the pack after ruptured his patellar tendon in late December. All of our hearts sunk to the floor when couldn’t put any weight on his left leg, though is playing as if his life depends on it.
Thealso missed for 44 games when he injured his non-shooting wrist in mid-November. The have missed both and for most of the season, and hasn’t played in their last nine games. Not to mention the missed for 25 games and have gone 19-4 since he returned, only to still be in a four-way tie for the 10th (or seventh) seed in the West.
Central Florida hints at national title snub after UMBC upset
The Knights congratulated the Retrievers for their upset over Virginia, while UMBC congratulated UCF for its "national title.""Amazing what happens when an under “dog” gets a fair shot in an expanded playoff [ ] Congrats on the history, @UMBCAthletics," the Knights tweeted.
Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers haven’t suffered any serious setbacks. Is that their fault? Absolutely not. But it would be incomplete not to contrast Portland’s success against their competition’s injury struggles.
We should still give Portland credit, of course
Lillard has been mindbogglingly good this season. He just won Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging nearly 35 points per game from March 5-11.
After years of ranking in the bottom third of the league defensively, Portland is a top-10 unit this year, allowing just 104.1 points per 100 possessions. McCollum is having his best season shooting from three-point range, and Shabazz Napier is starting to look like the player LeBron James goaded the Heat into trading for on draft day three years ago.
In fact, Stotts has brilliantly deployed a lineup with Lillard, McCollum, and Napier on the floor together all season long. That three-guard experimentin the 217 minutes they’ve shared the court this season. It’s been their best three-man lineup all season.
As a result, the Trail Blazers have been rolling. They’ve won 10 straight games and have scored 100 or more points in each game. During their streak, Portland’s beaten Golden State twice — once with, once without. They beat Oklahoma City, still a tough opponent powered by three stars. They also beat Minnesota, Utah and, on Monday night, Miami; three teams in the thick of the playoff hunt.
Opinion: 3 reasons Kentucky's path isn't as easy as everyone says
You're already booked for San Antonio, right? Atlanta's NCAA South Region should be a Kentucky cakewalk. Everyone says so. Of the South survivors, UK is the best seed. It has the talent. It has the tradition. Final Four, here come the Cats.Not so fast, my friends. Cincinnati made that mistake. Or at least the University of Cincinnati bookstore got ahead of itself, printing Sweet 16 T-shirts and placing them on sale a few hours before - that's right, before not after - its beloved Bearcats played Nevada on Sunday night. Not smart.
Bottom line: they still have work to do
The Trail Blazers have 15 games left on the schedule, and while they’ve created a smidgen of separation, it’s not nearly enough for them to get comfortable. They’re only four games ahead of the Spurs, Nuggets, Jazz, and Clippers, each tied and competing for the last two spots in the playoffs.
It’s a good thing they’ve beaten good teams, because a lot remain on the schedule. Eleven of Portland’s remaining 15 games are against teams competing for playoff spots, and eight of them are on the road. The Trail Blazers have to play Houston twice, Cleveland once, Boston once, and San Antonio — likely with Kawhi Leonard back — in one of their last games of the season. They also play the Clippers twice and see the Jazz and Nuggets once apiece before all is said and done.
So while Lillard and McCollum may be enjoying their time as the No. 3 seed, Portland had better keep it tight to close the year out. Because their top competitors will only get healthier as the season comes to a close.
And as quickly as they reached the No. 3 seed in the West, they just as easily can find themselves 10th, wondering what happened as they watch from the outside.
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99 and Counting
Embiid soars to the net
Catch me if you can
Handling the ball
To the basket
Coming to the party
In the air
Miller attends Sessions
King goes for the ring
Randle loses the handle
Utah Favors Jazz
Carter to the right
I see it coming!
Trying to put him down
You can't stop me
Looking to pass
Hands in the air
This is Mine
Unstoppable Force Meets an Immovable Object
Up in the Air
Hard to defend Harden!
The tops in action
Like a boss
Pistons can't fire
Brown sees red
Against all odds
Above the crowd
Let's go on a drive
To the hoop
I am not giving it away
Setting the pace
On a mission
Heading for a layup
Up in the air
Jazz it up
Not on my watch
Struggling a bit
In the nick of time...
Feels like Thunder!
Driving among the Grizzlies
Surrender to Magic!
Bulls win the battle
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World number one Dustin Johnson crashed out of the World Golf Championships Dell Technologies Match Play on Thursday after suffering his second defeat of the tournament. Defending champion Johnson, who suffered an upset loss to Bernd Wiesberger on Wednesday, was beaten 4&3 by Canada's Adam Hadwin at the Austin Country Club in Texas.
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