The Toronto Raptors might not be in the playoffs, but plenty of fans across North America have adopted the Portland Trail Blazers as the team they’re rooting for in the playoffs. Norman Powell will never have to buy a drink in Toronto again thanks to his stellar career with the Raptors, but fans had to say an early goodbye when the Gary Trent Jr. deal sent him to Oregon.
While Terry Stotts and the Blazers have one of the worst defenses in the league, Neil Olshey and Portland went all-in on the idea of three master marksmen in Powell, Damian Lillard, and Cj McCollum being too much for opposing defenses to overcome.
Presumed MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, however, have Powell and Portland on the brink. That doesn’t mean that a team with this scoring power supplemented by Norm’s champion experience is down for the count just yet.
Before the game, Powell, averaging 17.0 points per game on 50% shooting in this series, talked glowingly about his new team, claiming that they shared the same “underdog mentality” that Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, and the rest of the 2019 squad had during their magical run to glory.
Norman Powell is trying to revive the 2019 Toronto Raptors in Portland.
That 2019 team dealt with plenty of adversity. A shock Game 1 loss to an inferior Orlando team? We’ll beat the brakes off them in the next four games. Facing a tough Philadelphia team with Tobias Harris as the fourth option? Kawhi ripped their hearts out. Down 2-0 against Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee? not a problem for these guys.
How about the mighty Golden State Warriors? Not only did Powell help beat them, but he also helped end the dynasty. Portland will need some of Powell’s Raptors magic to rub off on them and erase the deficit.
Of course, the Blazers won’t keep winning on hope and similarities alone. The Leonard factor can’t be underestimated. While the defense remains porous, Playoff Norm and Dame Time have proven to be very real concepts, and the combination of the two could provide for enough pixie dust to send the Blazers on their way.
Portland has their backs against the wall, and they are staring down the expected MVP in Nikola Jokic. Luckily, as Powell has proved against Giannis and Milwaukee, it isn’t over till the clock hits zero in the last game of the series. Powell’s shooting and drive combined with Lillard’s clutch gene could help Portland pull off the comeback.