Rip City Returns to Portland as Blazers Make Playoffs Despite Doubters
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — For the regular season finale, the Portland Trail Blazers passed out T-shirts reading "Never Doubt Rip City."
Just in case there are still some doubters, the "never" is underlined.
The Blazers defied preseason expectations and made the playoffs, claiming the fifth seed in the Western Conference. They open their third straight postseason on Sunday in Los Angeles against the Clippers.
It's almost as if the Blazers succeeded despite the cynics.
"One person picked as what, 15 out of 15 in the West? I mean, the list goes on. I think everybody felt disrespected, like that's not what our season is gonna be," guard Allen Crabbe said. "It was everybody's goal since training camp that we were gonna play hard and it was us against everybody. Everybody stuck with that: We got better as the season went along and we had a helluva season."
Portland was expected to reach the playoffs last season — and did — with a starting lineup that included Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and Robin Lopez. But Matthews' late-season Achilles injury messed with the team's chemistry, and they were eliminated in the first round by a strong Memphis team.
Going into this season, the playoffs seemed a longshot.