Portland earned it. They clawed their way to these play-in games and earned it after starting the year off so sloppily. Dame hit ridiculous shots all night but his most clutch play was that steal above on Caris LeVert. Carmelo should really buy LeVert like a Porsche or something because Melo bricked the most wide open three he's ever seen and that would be all we were talking about right now if LeVert didn't pull from 20' while being guarded by a guy with a literal broken back with the game on the line. So the Blazers advance. They just have to beat the Grizzlies once to get their shot at the Lakers. Some prize. No matter for Lillard. He's in a zone right now and it's incredibly special to watch. The Nets were picking him up at halfcourt, sending doubles at him all night and he still dropped 42 & 12 on them.
There isn't anyone in the world who can check him at this moment in time. Even perfect defense is resulting in three points so casually right now. I can't imagine a universe where these Blazers knock off the Lakers, but I do know this will be a larger pain in the ass than the Lakers would rather deal with for the first round. Should be fun. The Bubble has been fun. I don't know how the NBA tries to recapture this magic they've seen the past couple of weeks moving forward but they gotta figure something out that doesn't involve a global pandemic. That feels like a good idea for everyone.