Look guys I really have no idea what to say about this game. I’m not a very good basketball blogger anyway, but when you separate me from the structure of the television broadcast and throw me into the cauldron of light-up sticks and free t-shirts and unsynchronized “D! Fense!” chants—the cauldron named for Mola Ram—well, my ability to analyze or contextualize or summarize a game in an effective manner goes from the normal mediocre-to-poor-but-masked-by-weird-jokes-and-distracting-fan-fiction level to the empty vacuum of space in which even the jokes instantaneously suffocate and die. Actually, maybe that’s it. I expected the Blazers to die, and I expected to write a eulogy. Now, uh, they didn’t die, they’re still alive, the mood was pretty high in the arena, everyone seemed to have a really good time, I had a really good time, and uh, well maybe I should still write a eulogy. I don’t know.
Was this a wake? Fate was certain. Tensions were low. Sadness was absent. Joy was high. When Storm Large sang the national anthem, she beckoned for the crowd to join her, imploring us to celebrate what could have very well been the last time we would all get to take part in a weird patriotic pregame ritual until next season, and next season is not this season OH SHIT THAT’S THAT CUTTING ANALYSIS RIGHT THERE HOLD UP I GOTTA TAKE A PICTURE WITH IT FOR MY MOM.
During introductions, when the lights turn down low and everyone holds up their red glowing sticks and yells just to yell cuz sometimes you just gotta yell I ain’t judging, the energy felt different than say, Game 4 against Houston (which was the only other playoff game I’ve attended this year so yeah I’m 2-0 you’re welcome Blazers). Do not be mistaken, it was live as hell tonight, but there was no fear. We had accepted our fate, but we were gonna turn up because if you’re gonna die you better die turnt that’s how you get into heaven.
Playing on behalf of your favorite neighborhood bar where you drink $3 tall boys and mingle with fellow degenerates and watch SportsCenter on mute while you silently lament how your life became “this,” the Blazers jumped out to a quick lead for the first time in the entire series over the Texas-funded developers who will soon turn the site of your favorite neighborhood bar into a giant construction site decorated with scaffolding covered in “Popovich Construction” banners until it’s finally replaced by 35-unit luxury apartment structure with a Panera Bread underneath. Fucking Tony Parker loves Panera Bread.
There was actually a competitive basketball game happening in the soon-to-be Panera Bread for a good 2 ½ quarters, THAT IS UNTIL WILL BARTON HAPPENED (and Thomas Robinson). The main Blazers all played well. I can list their names but you know who they are. I will say that Nicolas Batum played impassioned defense on Parker and Ginobli and had 14 points, 14 rebounds, and 8 assists. Man, he always has the most beautiful lines in the box score. Hang that shit up in MoMA. Watch an art student stare at it for 30 minutes then cry. “IT’S SO UNIVERSAL AND PERSONAL AND UNCOMPROMISING.” Meanwhile in the big room, the weird smelly people who snuck in on the free admission day and never left are still frozen and mesmerized by the performance of one Will The Thrill The People’s Champ Trill Barton.
With Mo Williams nursing whatever he’s nursing (groin I think? HEY ESPN IS THAT DIRECTION, NERD), Barton stepped into Mo’s minutes as primary creator when spelling Lillard and as wacky scorer when next to Lillard, and holy shit he did really well. 17 points and a runaway playoff win speak for themselves but allow me to speak further. When running the point, Barton was basically given a horse that he promptly climbed inside at a sub-molecular level and changed its genome and all of a sudden he was riding a Pegasus-like winged equine beast that no longer had a head because it was too in tune with the universe to have need for a head but it did have a few extra legs and used those legs to score a series-best 11 fast break points – and while next to Lillard, he was the hot sauce on the hash browns, so to speak.
For nearly the entirety of the season, Mo Williams has been derided by fans for his apparent duality between viable scoring option and turnover-prone madman. He typically can only manage one facet of his basketball personality per game, which is what makes him such an unpredictable and frustrating player. Barton, however, seems to possess a similar duality between wild scorer and savvy creator, but he moved between the two in this game with such ease and self-awareness that—well, maybe take your time to get healthy, Mo. Lastly we get to Thomas Robinson, who was the only bench player other than Barton to score, even though his line in the box score said only, “Turnt.” So yeah, it was a fun wake.