Lillard’s March Surge and Nurkic Fever Mark Blazers’ Season
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers got "Nurkic Fever" late in the season and it helped carry them into the playoffs.
But without big man Jusuf Nurkic — except for about 15 minutes — in the postseason's opening round, the young Blazers were no match for Golden State. The defending conference champion Warriors swept Portland in its fourth playoff appearance in as many years.
"We had a tough draw, the best team in the league," Blazers guard Damian Lillard said. "I felt like we played them really well but they also showed their championship pedigree. When you can't sustain that mental focus for 48 minutes, five minutes and you're down 25 points."
Expectations were higher for the Trail Blazers this season after they surprisingly advanced to the second round of the playoffs last year. There wasn't a whole lot of turnover in the offseason, with just a few new pieces added to the puzzle.
But the NBA's youngest roster didn't appear to have the same cohesiveness or consistency as they had last season. December was especially brutal, with Portland going just 4-11.