PORTLAND — Although the Portland Trail Blazers suffered a “gut-punch” loss at the hands of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors, their confidence over the series has grown.
Following Game 4, Lillard said that Portland is relishing their opportunity against the champs but also, the opportunity to gain their respect.
“We want to go out there and make sure they respect us and make sure that they understand that it’s not going to be what everybody think it’s going to be,” Lillard said after Game 4. “There’s not going to be no rolling over. There’s not going to be no out here being scared. There’s not going to be any of that. I think our team has done that, every game we’ve gone out there and fought. We’ve believed that we can get it done and it’s shown. We could have won the last three games.”
Tuesday morning as the team prepared to head down to the Bay Area for Wednesday’s Game 5, where the Warriors will be looking to close them out up 3-1, head coach Terry Stotts agrees that the team’s confidence is just fine.
“I think we were confident coming into the series,” Stotts said Tuesday in a conference call. “I do think that we have played better each game even after losing Game 2 and losing Game 4 in the way we lost. I still think that we look back on it that we played better and we should. I think the confidence is there, I don’t think it’s ever wavered but I think it has grown.”
The Blazers have needed every bit of that confidence to force the champs to come back from 15 points or more in each of the last three games.
That hasn’t happened to the Warriors since the 2011-12 season, which was the last time they failed to make the playoffs, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
But that’s not really what’s important to the Blazers.
In their last two playoff exits, it was painfully clear how overmatched they were.
Although they’re down 3-1, that they’ve improved over every game, which they couldn’t say in years past.
“I think it’s encouraging,” Stotts said. “Going back to the last couple of years: San Antonio we weren’t close and Memphis we weren’t close. To muster up the energy and the confidence can be a little bit more challenging. When you are in a competitive position in a couple of the games that we lost I think it tends to trend towards having more belief.”
The Blazers did not practice on Tuesday but did meet to have a film session in Tualatin before flying down to the Bay Area for Game 5.
Their locker room may have been crickets but in there was a confidence that Warriors won’t so easily punch their tickets to the Conference Finals.
“We were one or two stops away from winning the game,” Lillard said after Game 4. “We’re not out here getting blown out, we’re not out here getting bullied, we’re competing. Every game, we’re competing for a win and they know that, so we let another one get away but next game we’ve got to go out there and try to get one on their court.”