The Four Bounces Heard Round the World: Kawhis Raptors Advance | Heat Check
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Welcome to a special playoff edition of heat. Check. I'm your host, John Zala. I am in Toronto. Joined as I am every week by my producer, Isaac Lee. Who is in LA? Hey, sorry for your loss. Man. I feel like I I should do some like happy mother's day stuff. But probably not so happy for mothers in Philadelphia. I just got outta game seven. It was not the best game seven I've ever seen. But it was one of the best game winning shots. I've ever seen by Leonard. It was an incredible performance by him an incredible moment with the ball bounced four times, and it went through the hoop and the raptors are moving on and the Sixers or not and immediately afterwards. I got a text from Bouwman who said he wanted me to shout him out for predicting that the Sixers would win games. Six to make me come up to Toronto to watch them lose and work a game seven at night on a Sunday. So shots tobao. Then you're right. Yeah. Apparently Toronto has it in for you. They really just want you to work hard on the mother's day and game of thrones day and the game of thrones day what an incredible game we're gonna get into it in just a second. I want to say to everybody. Thanks for listening. Please rate and review us and all of our fantastic ringer NBA shows and pods and check out all of our great content on the ringer Palo. And Haley are all over the winners and losers from the playoffs. Danny Chow has a piece about coys game winner. I wrote about Sixers wraps game seven and the ripple effects for those Philadelphia. Seventy Sixers and Dan Devine, Dan, DeVine's, always writing stuff. He's always Raleigh all about the NBA, the NBA never stopped stand divine never stops. So I feel like he's a perfect guy to talk about basketball with right now after two crazy game sevens. The Sixers lose the raptors win and out in the Western Conference. The Denver Nuggets were up big. They blow it and the Portland trailblazers advance. So we have a lot to talk about. So let's bring him in. By joining me on the line. He's a staff writer, he says sensually at this point, he checks. Unofficial third member. Dan, Devine joining us, Dan, as I said in the open, I just came from a crazy conclusion to game seven of the second round of the Eastern Conference. It wasn't one of the best games I've ever seen. It was easily one of the best finishes I've ever seen. Yeah. I was kind of not sure you still were gonna wanna do this. I wasn't sure exactly how our conversation was gonna go. But yeah, I mean, listen, if it's got a wrap up in that kind of way, at least you get to see something, you know, the kind of ending that very few people get to wash live. It's an absolutely wild finish. So from my vantage point in the arena, I was up pretty high the angle that co I took on it seemed crazy, and then what had bounced at first I thought. Okay. This looks like it's going to overtime, and then it bounced again, and then about two more times and won it fell through our reaction. From the press row was the same react. As everybody in the crowd was the same reaction as everybody watching at home. It was some version of holy shit. I can't believe that shopping on. It was really incredible. That you think that was going to happen that you think the ball was going to go through before the start of the play I sort of thought. Yeah. I mean, this is the way this ends. It ends with you gave that guy one more shot or that guy got one more shot, and he made it because this guy makes this shot. But then I saw the play as it was unfolding, and it's like he's running really far away. And he's running sort of in the wrong direction is running himself into the corner. And there's a lot of there's a lot of red around him. This is not seem like a really high percentage. Look, and then for a hang on the rim in that those four bounces in than to just sort of dropped through its it was sort of like the most Kawai the most appropriate dramatic shot that a guy like Kawai could hit like bounce bounce bounce plink. And then everybody goes nuts. So I mean, it was obviously they had to draw up for him. There was no other option. And there was no other way. No other place. You would put the ball in that situation. But for. For him to sorta take that banana out kind of run all the way around the three point arc into the corner. Then shoot the fade as like yet. No one hits that shot, but he hit that goddamn shot. He hit that goddamn shot. It was just incredible. And this sounds like kind of a weird thing to say about somebody who's easily not just the best player in this series. But might be the best player in all of the playoffs anywhere so far. But it was sort of a redemptive moment for me because right before that happened. He had a chance to salt the game away by making both free throws. And he only made one free throw and Jimmy Butler racist the length of the floor, grabs the rebound racist length of the floor and ties the game with a layup. And then all of a sudden, you're going oh, man co I might have just blown this for them by not making both free throws. And then instead he headset. And he was saying afterwards that he's never made a game winner. Obviously in the game seven before it's something to add to his resume. But my favorite part about that was you know, so you saw the emotion of him after he makes the shot and his teammates mob him and rightly so they're in. Joining this whole thing. And of course, quite gets asked about it in post game. And he said, yes, I was very emotional in the most monotone possible way. So it was it was perfect celebration for him for him to talk very evenly about how excited and high. He was from the play was just an incredible thing to behold. Yeah. I think that's that's sort of perfect insofar as he just everything's in brackets are in parentheses. It's all encapsulated that happens in the moment. And in the moment, there's the exaltation in the freak out in the holy shit. I just did that. And then as soon as that's done. It's all right now gotta go get rested up a treatment and couple of days. You don't get his bright back to that. Like be barely feel a pulse. End low blood pressure kind of situation. But maybe that's what you need to be somebody who can perform to this degree in these moments. Because like that was the thing that, you know, as you're watching those late game possessions, your like even really great players, and there were some really great players in this series. But even those guys don't seem to. Want to have the ball in their hands right now. They don't want to be the one that makes the mistake. They don't wanna be the one or they're not able to sort of elevate their game in these moments. And that's I don't think that is like to paint with a broad brush and said none of those players like ever will Jimmy Butler, obviously has that amazing run out the full court lay up to tie the game. I know Embiid has had major moments he will have more cetera. But there was this sort of just collective tension of everybody not wanting to make the mistake screwed everything up and lost the series. And in that moment. Maybe it's because there was just sort of no other option it was like four seconds. And if you do it ear-, and we win we win then great. And if not we go to overtime in everyone continues to have this long heart attack. But in that moment, who's ready to bring it home. And that's exactly why messiah Jerry traded the most popular raptor ever. Or one of them to take a swing at a superstar. Because you need superstars in moments like this, and they got one in. Now, they got a chance. There's no doubt about it. I mean, like everything you're saying about how co wanted that? That moment. It wasn't just that moment. If you want to expand the moment to just say the game or is. Series. He's been everything for the raptors in the playoffs certainly in this series. I mean there were a couple of moments. Couple of games early were PASCAL Siachen was playing really well. And then later in the series, not as much, and I think Abaco is pretty good tonight. You put twenty nine minutes it felt like he wanted some of their shots. Kyle Lowry took some of those shots didn't make a lot of them. You only made four of his thirteen. He went one for seven from three. But outside of that for the most part, it was mostly just like coli taken the ball and ice owing and deciding I'm going to do all of this by myself because the rest of the team didn't look super interested in doing any of that like it felt very much like the raptors not named Kawhi where like, yeah, you were cool with you doing this because I don't want to pass Siaka my thought like kind of shrunk from the moment Gusau, especially like, you know, he was busy trying to defend Embiid, which is fine. But I didn't feel like he had a particularly good game where he was invested in things. It had to be quiet had to be quiet this entire game. It had to be quiet in that moment. And if it hadn't been quite the Sixers would be in the Eastern Conference finals. Absolutely. And I think it's worth you. Brought up some good points about what all was providing what Lowery was providing John Shuman from MBA dot com. Had a really good tweet. And a note that was like good defensive basketball is still good basketball. Right. It's not just it's not just that when you watch a slug fest. It means it's trash, and so this all goes, forty five minutes and eleven seconds matches. Every second Joel Embiid on the floor and beat goes six eighteen now, some of that system beads some of that is a lot of it is dissolved defense, we will be we've also seen instances in this series. Where Embiid was able to beat the solves defense. You know, he's an elite offensive player, but the defensive work the six for eighteen for Embiid is more important or lease equally as important as gazelles three for eight. Yeah. The raptors defense late as the game really funnel down into crunch. Time. Was really excellent. I mean, there was a series of three straight possessions. Two of which were shocked. Doc violations by the Sixers where they just could not get a look offense. They they looked lost and disjointed and conversely, unlike the raptors who had quite a takeover guy. Yes, you have Jimmy who can potentially do that. But he didn't in this game. And he was very plainly the only guy who could like ice. Oh their way hero ball their way into a victory. I mean, it had to be a unit thing because they really only have one guy who could be there closer, but in those three series. It was excellent defense by the raptors as well. It wasn't just at the Sixers looked disjointed offensively. It was the Toronto was just really all up in them for that entire time. And I think like as much as it was a failure by the Sixers. It was a win by the raptors defensively. Yeah. And that's really been that was the idea to some degree when they made the gazelle trade. Obviously was it's the part of the big argument for making a deal like the one for which is it elevates your ceiling as you need to have a late game offense of creator at a different level in a different order of magnitude than two mortar Rosen or Kyle Lowry was able to give you. But also, it you prioritizing defense by having one of the elite perimeter defenders in the in the world sort of imported at a position of what was weakness when you didn't really have that guy with mortar Rosen. So you elevate the defensive ceiling across the board Siachen coming on this year in his growth his development. You know, he's been absolutely monstrous when they went to those bigger lineups where it was dissolved playing with a Bacha them all of a sudden all that length and all the ability to cover ground quickly the way they could close out on shooters get hands in passing lanes and stuff. Really ratcheted up the raptors this was sort of the recipe. I in a perfect world we seen it in some blowout wins. It's also great ball movement and swing swing for open shots, Danny Green's making six threes. And everybody looks great in your putting up a hundred and twenty five points. But this was also the blueprint. This was the way messiah Jerry built this team this year. It's you're going to need all hands on deck defensively, you need to be able to take the opponent out of their primary actions in snuff out what they wanna do most and do that long enough to give Coa Leonard a chance to be. The best offensive player in the series. And it took a a kind of a long time you needed. It was the lad that very last few seconds of the game. But it certainly looks like a plan that made a whole lot of sense. And now we get to go find out what it looks like when coli Leonard goes up against the honest at a Coon. But which sounds like a damn monster movie? I'm pretty excited for it. Yeah. I'm not there yet we can be excited for willing. I'm I'm still don't blame. You. I don't blame you. I mean, the guy was a monster. The entire series is no doubt about it. And then the other guys were alternately invisible and semi useful. But in this game, even when like I said, I knocked Seok them for sort of shrinking in the moment. And and then not getting a lot out of the Saul or or lower your green or whatever. But also in terms of a unit and doing the dirty little things that help you win a game. It wasn't just that. They did that defensively. They're also all over the glass, and this is something that is sort of surprising to me because the Sixers when they assembled this five man unit one of the things that they really liked about it. And I don't know that they did it on purpose. But it was a byproduct of these trades. All of a sudden, they got really big they have five guys JJ is big for a shooting guard. I guess but the other four guys are very large for their position. And yet the raptors crush them on the offensive boards and time and time again tonight, it became a crucial thing that. The Sixers couldn't avoid and that the raptors benefited from the raptors had sixteen offense of boards, Serge Ibaka alone had four offense boards, which was as many as all five six or starters combined. Yeah, it's crazy. And it goes to you combine that with turnovers right because those are sort of self inflicted wounds in their their missed fundamental opportunities. And what you get in Toronto force or Philadelphia committed seventeen turnovers leading to twenty one raptor points. And it's not even just that though because there was a sixteen offensive rebounds. They didn't necessarily lead to instant buckets. I think only twelve second chance points for Toronto from looking at this. Right. But what it leads to is a twenty four field goal attempt. Disparity between Toronto and Philly. Toronto got up eighty nine shots in this game in Philly only got up sixty five and you can't it a game seven obviously comes down to the final possession. It comes down to the very last shot of the game. You can't give that many more bites at the apple to a team that even. If they're struggling is still really good in has elite talent and has an elite shotmaker in creator inquire Leonard to be able to make you pay on some of those. So I'm sure that's the kind of thing that Brett Brown is going to be, you know, CNN asleep for the next few weeks later all those second chances that they gave up all the live all turnovers the Mesaba -tunities they're in the playoffs. These margins matters so much and over the course of the series. It seemed like whichever team got the better of those things of the offense of glass, whichever team was better suited sick care of the ball or force turnovers wound up winning game seven those things. Definitely went Toronto's way. You have really did. I mean, the aftermath to is just crazy like the juxtaposition of watching the raptor, celebrate. And then alternately the seventy Sixers not. Yeah. Embiid was so despondent that there were multiple raptors that were consoling him Siachen went up to him and gave him a hug and a Baca was whispering in his ear and disol- was given an words of encouragement, and he was just devastated in, you know, like, obviously, how could you not be after something like? That I mean, it was just a killer to watch. But I I wonder like it felt like the narrative out of Philly was that everything hinged on game seven, which is crazy because if you distill it further that means everything changed by that one shot. Like all of a sudden if that shot doesn't go in and they somehow win this game. Does it change everything about like Butler may be coming back and maxing out Harris and sure you're fine with Ben Simmons doing whatever Ben Simmons does in? Joel will be just finding Brown's a good coach. And all of a sudden, none of those things are true. Or maybe only some of them are it's hard for me as a Philadelphia and to gain perspective on it. But it feels kind of crazy that the narrative would shift that much on one play. Yeah. I I agree with that. I mean, I think heading into the game number of smart people. You know, I think there'd Baden at the athletic, and some other people is sort of written that notion that if this really is a referendum on Brett Brown if whether or not the Sixers win game seven is going to determine whether or not he has his job. You also have written about what we don't know about coaching, and how fickle that sort of discussion can be during the. Postseason this idea that if they win this game, then he's a good coach. And then the players are good in. We're building in the right direction and bring everybody back in sign everybody. And if they lose this game, you need a change on the bench, and you need to change the rotation you need to get rid of the guys in, you know, make wholesale changes. It seems like that the risk of bringing back old ghosts. It's the that's not the longest view in the room. Right. That's not the way to sort of make these decisions may be the pressure of the moments forces you to change that thought process, obviously, the last several front offices that the Sixers have had have had a different sort of viewpoint on the timeline of this team that made sense as a way of looking at it before the game. I certainly think it makes sense when it comes down to the final shot of the game. You have to look at what led you to this point in what brought you here that collection of talent the group and the rotation that you put together and see where you fell short for one thing. I'd say having five centers and only one of them being playable is a problem. This is okay. Let's pause here for a second. Okay. Because there were multiple times during the game when you know, I'm to screening it a Montoire, and I see people crushing brat and saying you gotta get 'em bead back in there. And what are you doing running? Greg mom, roll out there for all of two minutes. Right, essentially, he had a seven man rotation as did Nick nurse in this. They stole two minutes with Greg Monroe. And my thing was what exactly do you want him to do? This is something I've repeated multiple times I don't want to repeat it one more time. What exactly do you expect Brown to do? I guess he has some hand in assembling this roster because he was instrumental in installing Elden Brandon as general manager in the front office. But like you said they have a shit ton of centers. And none of them are good after Embiid. Yeah. I mean, the the number of shorts made the rounds already in if it's not we're gonna make make it make the rounds right now and bead got ninety nine minutes of rest in this series over the course of seven games and the Sixers were outscored by one. Hundred nine points in those ninety nine minutes of rest. That's crazy. That is basically an imaginary number. That's like if I told you they outscored them by seventy three points. You could've made up something. That's not a number. And I would have been like, yeah. Okay. Sounds about. Right. I mean, the one in the short of it is you can sort of hold a couple of different thoughts in your head. Right. You can say Embiid had a very up and down series. And maybe some of that was due to injury. And maybe some of that was due to illness. And maybe some of that was due to performance in maybe some of that was due to Marcus, Saul in yada, yada, yada. But they need him to be something closer to the consistency of what Coa Leonard gave Toronto in this series. That's what the foot if he's going to be the franchise player if he's going to be the perennial NBA player the tent pole centerpiece. He has to be that guy but expecting anybody to do that for forty five minutes a game in the highest leverage moments of the season is faulty construction. And so if you're talking about what changes need to be made in what judgments needs to be made as the Sixers move forward. What this game in the series in whatever this result is a referendum on. I think you start there as opposed to. We gotta get rid of the coach. And we shouldn't resign. This guy discovered. This guy is you have to figure out how to. Be able to win these games with Embiid playing thirty eight minutes or forty minutes as opposed to forty five minutes in falling short in the last second because you couldn't live with Greg Monroe for five seconds. Did you see the game presser? I saw some of it. I didn't see all that. We were. Also, you're talking about second screening. It was a game of thrones situation that had to happen here. So I've heard of that show don't anything about it. It was a weird post game presser for a lot of reasons. But specifically with Brett Brown who was asked like, hey, you know, about all this speculation about your job there guy. Have you had any conversations with ownership about your job and his answer was very strange very short? He said we talk about that stuff. All the time. The club can address it as like what? Right. That's it. Like the club can address it. And then you know, they've got clean out day tomorrow. And now everybody is on Brown death watch here. And I just think like I fear that he's going to end up as the scapegoat, which would be unfortunate for all the reasons that I ruined about an very long piece saying, I don't think that we know is. Much as we think we do about coaching and especially not in the playoffs and then beyond that Jimmy Butler is also asked, hey, what are your plans their guy? And he said I'm not talking about that right now, which I understand it's like moments after a game seven that they just lost in brutal fashion. But watching him afterwards like he got off the day is he was with Embiid. They got up the day. They went into the back there, and they had like like a hug goodbye that felt more than just hey, we're teammates were just lost a game. And then they literally in separate directions. Yeah. Like the symbolism was a little on the nose for me. It's like I can't write that. Okay. You know, it's seeing that. It's all it's all a bit much, but I can't blame. Honestly, I feel like I can't blame Brett Brown. If you was like, I actually don't want to answer another question about anything right now. Because all I've been doing for the last I don't know five years is answering questions about what the front office is or isn't going to do and how to interpret what they will or won't say or whatever like he's been put out in that position so often for so long, and he's the shield sort of taken all those shots for him to be able to sail again, I don't I don't really have much to say about my situation. Like, the reality is if Brown gets fired because of this he will have opportunity to coach I would imagine as soon as he would like to somewhere else, you're not going to walk into probably the same talent situation that you would here. But I would imagine he would not be a free agent for very long if he chose that. Because I think what you showed in terms of building this culture developing starting from the very early processes of like, this is the way we play. This is the idea the identity. See the style with is how we're going to grow the confidence of our young guys. How we're going to develop the program all of sort of collegiate stuff, that's all that language was was couched in people bought into it, and it did grow and it did develop an I don't know that maybe those guys guys like Embiid got Ben Simmons in a note before the, you know, the some of the other guys like Robert Covington Darvish Orage. Maybe those guys would have become who they were any way. No matter what. But maybe not an I think as organizations around the league look at it and say, we want somebody that we know can people whether it's have a hand in player development or that is capable of bringing a team every step of the way he's shown a capacity to do that. While also being a hell of a quote in the process. So I would imagine if that's the way things swing. I don't think that'll break too badly for him in the long term. And I think that if you're gonna make that choice in your Elton brand your Sixers ownership you'd better have a really damn good replacement lined up because as we just saw in LA coaching searches can get weird fast as if you don't have the exactly the right idea for who you want when you want to get him. Netanyahu is available. I mean after coming within not just one game of the Eastern Conference finals, but one shot that bounced four times at one miracle. Yeah. I mean, it was a hell of a shot and a hell of a performance not just in this game. But in the series by quiet Lonard like all credit to the raptors they're going to be a really tough out for the bucks. And I have no idea, and we're going to get to that in just a second who's going to win the Eastern Conference finals, but the simple, and maybe it's so simple. It's too obvious. But the thing that it would seem to me to do here is just to run it back with everybody. If you can get Jimmy to stick around and Tobias to stick around and you keep ratting. You like you go. Okay. I mean, remember going into the playoffs to five starters and only played together for ten games. You just got into what can we do with these guys? And now it's over sooner than you'd want it to be sure. But I just don't know about like all of a sudden reconfiguring the roster, and or you know, ousting the coach and and hitting the reset button I'd want to see more of this. Because what we? Aw. Despite the end result was pretty good to my mind. Yeah. I mean, again, you're you're talking about a sample of three hundred thirty four total minutes between regular season in postseason. So it's not exactly like they've had a ton of time to to Jalen to come together. And in those in those minutes with math. They were a plus one seventy three in the minutes. So like again, again eleven d million eleven million yet like far away the best option the team had and at times it looked devastating at times. It looked like Ben Simmons is figuring out where to position himself on the floor alongside Jimmy Butler pick and rolls in when Tobias was going and wen. JJ would have the shot going and had the motion going. There was space for everybody. And they would be games where everybody takes like between ten and fourteen shots, and they just rampage and that size coming to bear on the defensive end as well there were there were nights where it all clicked. There weren't enough of them, unfortunately, and there were periods like that fallow. Period late in the fourth quarter where the grinding of. Aguirre's offensively and the the lack of similiarity the lack of of sort of perfect fit came back to harm them in that way. But I personally would love to see what this looked like with a full offseason with maybe some reimagining of what you can do in the second unit improvements of some of those backup pieces giving Brett Brown. Another sort of a chance to put the pieces on the board and figure out how to make a move around. There's a really interesting team. Here is already one. I think there's one that could be even more compelling and more and more dangerous on both ends of the floor given some chance to jail into cohere. But there's a a lot of questions that needs to get answered as far as contract situations and the extension for Ben Simmons who is now eligible for an extension of his rookie deal and Brown situation, and so on and so forth. So there's a lot that has to get figured out before you get everybody back to training camp. But personally, I would like to see what it looked like gonna be super chill offseason in Philadelphia. If they don't bring back, Mike Scott's tattoos and his headband. Phillies gonna riot. All right. So spending it forward before we move onto the other series. Could he think wins box and raptors in the Eastern Conference? I wonder how excited NBA executives are about this market matchup for the conference finals, we've had some conversations about that. And I get generally the idea that these are not NBA glamour markets. But I kind of wonder if you know, we've always said it's a league of stars. Right. You can sell stars. And I think you can sell Janas versus co I met neither of those guys are at LeBron level of market saturation public personalities household names. But they're up there. And I think you can sell that. So I'm interested to see what the ratings and the public response looks like, but in terms of of the encore basketball stuff, I haven't dug into the match up too much yet. But probably be doing that tomorrow. I some conference finals preview stuff it'll go up on the ringer. But my early read my early first blush responses, I think Milwaukee just has too many. Any answers across the board. I loved the way that Mike gluten holes responded to get punched in the mouth and that the game one sort of adjustments that Boston made it he said, we know how we have to respond to this. We know how we have to adjust to it. We know we have the pieces in place to do it. We have confidence in you, even without Malcolm Brogdon for most of that series. They said we are gonna figure it out with that content. We're George we're going to figure it out what George hill we're gonna we have the sort of secondary group of guys that we believe can can contribute end. They did. And now brogden his back, and he played pretty well in his first game back, and they've had some time off to rest up and get everybody, you know, handle their having. There will be that question of rest versus Russ like there is for everything that had a long lay-off. But if any team was going to be going up against Toronto N have the still be able to feel like they had the best guy in the series. It's Milwaukee with Janas and given what the rest of the raptors looked like at times in that series against Philadelphia. The way that they sort of ebbed and flowed. Missed a ton of open shots, and so on and so forth. I kind of feel like I trust Milwaukee's depth and Milwaukee's overall talent level more than I trust Toronto's in that matchup. But I think it's gonna be fascinated again two guys who very well might wind up garden each other the whole series in going at each other at that like a a plus level of Janas risk. Why I can't wait to see what that looks like once again not there yet. I'm sure day or two I will be there. I'm waiting like moments moments out of the arena, still digesting. What the hell happened not just in that game? But to the Sixers season, and what's pending as they go and do locker clean out day on Monday. But yeah, the hell of a hell of an effort by the raptors. I'm sure I will get excited about rappers and bucks soon. Just not yet. All right before we go to the other series to the Western Conference. Let's take a break for a word from our sponsors. Today's episode of check is brought to you by ZipRecruiter. Hiring used to be hard multiple job sites. Stacks of resumes, confusing review process, but today, hiring can be easy. And you only have to go to one place to get it done at ZipRecruiter dot com slash ringer. NBA ZipRecruiter send your job to over one hundred of the web's leading job boards, but they don't stop there with their powerful matching technology. Ziprecruiter scans thousands of resumes to find the right people with the right experience and invites them to apply for your job. And as applications come in ZipRecruiter analyzes each one and spotlights the top candidates. So you never miss a great match. 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There was a crazy game seven in Denver and the road team won that one Dan the Portland trailblazers were down seventeen points on the road looked listless in the first half Dame couldn't hit a shot. And we're like I'm watching it on TV in the bowels of the arena here in Toronto. And we'll pause to do like pregame media veil. And I thought well, you know, this game's going to be over at the half. It looked like forget about it and one we came back from pre-game avail, all of a sudden, the blazers were up and CJ was killing it and Dame made a couple of shots and Evan Turner. There was an Evan Turner, citing the believers one this was crazy. I mean, you were watching this game. Did you expect Portland to emerge victorious and reached the conference finals? I did not I feel like I didn't have much of an expectation one way or the other to be honest with you because all of the. Things that we had questions about with Denver all season long. You know, what a young team that depended on so many relatively inexperienced guys in their rotation. Would they be able to meet the pressure of a game seven with able to meet the pressure of what that required possession to possession? Nipple Yokich was fantastic as he has been all season in all all postseason. But then there was the other big question. The sort of the always question with the nuggets is what kind of Jamal Murray game, but you're gonna get and seventeen point six rebounds, five assists. Sounds really good. But it's four for eighteen from the floor, and it's missing all four of your three pointers and the needed something else. They needed that second punch that second source of shot creation and shot making to be able to answer encounter back when CJ would make his big shots and Murray just wasn't quite there. And when the infernos in fairness he did have a shot with about thirty left to get them closer. They were down one. I thought that bigger indictment. I mean yoga. Chance to make both of his free throws with what eleven seconds left, right? And he doesn't and instead CJ goes eyeso- and hits amid ranger where he looked like he kind of as he was doing to step back move. Maybe pushed off a little bit off a little bit. But you know, yoke chips both all of a sudden that's a little bit different. But instead CJ hits the shot. Now, they're up three. I mean CJ in this game any game sex actually took over and the blazers deciding to go with CJ because they had to out of necessity in those two games. I think says a lot because the ringer has been tried and trade him for years. Just ask him. He's very aware of that to me the thing that was so impressive with CJ McCollum out. I mean, we've known he's a mid range killer for years. We know he's got that. You know, incredibly tight handle he's able to get into in and out of tight situations like splits double teams like nobody's business and he's a liquid with the ball in his hand. But he's been able to anchor lineups that really needed to be. Good for this team like the beginnings of the second and fourth quarter when it's just like him. And yet it's Evan Turner in its Seth Korea knits Zach Collins in. You're like, I don't know, man. I hope I mean the no Dame. No nurkic. She we're trying to figure it out CJ. You gotta run everything. And it's got to go through you. And they worked you know, he was able to make them work enters able to to sort of steady the ship in those moments. And then when they came back when those those slows over smaller lineups, I wrote a little bit about that in the pre game seven piece that I did for the ringer about Terry Stotts in game six turning more to like a one big man for Smalls look with whether it's Kanter Collins, but then with CJ Dame in Rodney hood who had a huge game six and then left early with a deadly was the hyperextended knee from game seven, but all of these sort of shotmaking Smalls that would go around and for that to work, especially when Dame doesn't have it going CJ has to make shots. I add a really insane clip end make plays with the ball in his hands. Create for others. And he did a sensational job of that. I think more than thirty points and zero turnovers in game six and seven which is crazy in a huge given the shots that he was taking the plays that he was trying to make to maintain that level of of officiency at not stumbled in coughed the ball up is just wild end. It indicates that this is the proof of concept, the blazers to amend would always say we believe that what we have here is enough to get deep to go far. We don't have to just break it up because we're not quite as good or the production isn't quite as good. The results haven't been quite as good as the splash brothers or insert other one two punch here. This is the perfect concept. Whether it means that they're good enough to go deep against those warriors. I mean, we'll remains to be seen. We'll find out what that matchup looks like in. You know, how how effective Golden State is gonna be coming off a war of attrition against Houston. But this is the suggestion of like if you're pretty good for a long time. And you believe that you have what it takes to get to really good. You gotta keep giving it a chance. And they gave it a chance. J mccollum. Look, awful smart for it. Yeah. I think that's a really good point. Because the blazers have been in line in the Western Conference for a while. And there were those of us pretty much when I say those of us like we all work at the ringer. Yeah. You know, maybe you blow it up, and you break up the back court between Damon and CJ, and you like you see what what else you can get. And you're right. I think this is validated for Neil O'Shea. And and the blazers organization where they go. We told you like this is something that we said that we could do and we did it. And here they are in the in the Western Conference finals for the first time since nineteen ninety nine two thousand that was the she'd team Damon Stoudamire was on that team Scottie Pippen are Vitas bonus democratises dad, that's how long it's been since they've been in the conference finals, and they they really hit on something here. Where to your point about proof of concept where they can go. Okay. Yeah. Now and the end to do it without nurk too. I think is really really impressive. I mean, they've gotten quality contributions from Kanter. But when they lose nurk, I thought well, that's that's going to be a huge blow for them because he was playing really well, and they plug in cancer and they keep plugging along. And it's a big moment for the blazers. And I think like PR. Pretty damn devastating for the nuggets because to be up seventeen points at home in a game seven and blow it I'm with you. When when you say that, you know, you probably need more from Jamal Murray who only went for eighteen and didn't hit a three pointer, but to be up that big, and then lose had it's gonna be a tough tough offseason. Oh, absolutely. And it's we talk about this a lot with young teams, right? Because so much of this core is under twenty five. And there's that sense of yet. Will you know, what this is there? I kind of first taste of how difficult this is. And how hard it is to win in the postseason. You know, it's going to serve them in good stead. And they'll be back yet. Maybe I hope that's true. I love a lot of the young talent on this team. But a lot of times teams don't come back. You know? So sometimes the best chance you get is the one that you that is right in your hands right now. And for it to go in the second half of that game. They go sixteen for forty eight as a team from the fields. They miss all nine of their three pointers in the second half. They score forty eight points and get outscored by thirteen and they just they. What about the second half? Then they only had two three pointers in the game in the whole game. Yeah, it's crazy and the whole game. And I think there was they were both in the first quarter. Right. I think it was both he was Yokich into in the first quarter, and like so the, but the idea that they had that early lead they had that sort of momentum. And then they just could not sustain it. They could not continue to execute McCollum keeps throwing in those daggers from mid range and just keeping them close in drawing amid and raining amid a little bit. It puts them in position where it's a young team or an inexperienced team gets put to the test. And in fairness, I wanna make sure I go clear on this. It's not just the inexperienced guys like this was not a crowning achievement for Paul Millsap today to he fouls out with with three of thirteen from the floor. He has meant so much to this team. Especially on the defensive end for what he can lead people to do at us killing early in the year in the series posted up on a minute posted up on Evan Turner. The blazers were able to adjust Joe him some more bodies some more help in the paint win. Especially when Zack calms in the game. So he wasn't as bulldozing. Evan Turner to get to the rim and a lot of the easy stuff. Dried up for him. And a lot of the good looks or the look city had he wasn't able to knock down and the moment when you need those leaders most he wound up having a quiet performance. I don't think that's necessarily should go. What's going to go on palm those apps career obituary or anything like that? But this was a day where nickel Yokich needed help. And where the nuggets needed something to help them maintain what they'd already earned in already put together and keep it from getting siphoned away from them and clawed back and there just weren't enough answers. They they did not do what they needed to do over. The course of the last thirty minutes of the game or whatever to be able to maintain what they'd held in. I think that's going to leave a very bad taste in a lot of mouths in Denver for the next few months. Yeah. I mean, you're right. Like they needed something from somebody other than Yokich. And this is something that I was concerned about not to do the. I told you this was coming thing. But I kind of told you this was coming where like I wanted to see what would happen in a critical situation when Yokich wasn't necessarily like doing it all by himself who would be the guy to step up. And I think we've had Jamaa we had Jamal Murray games. I know he didn't shoot. Well tonight. I think Jamal Murray had a really good playoffs overall. But tonight you needed something from him a little bit extra. But beyond that I wanted to see like who was going to be one of the nuggets to step forward and and put their hand up and be counted. And it's pretty much nobody. And that's that's a shame that the like they have a lot of depth. But they don't have like a beyond Jamal Murray. Who I think is now the one A they don't have a lot more beyond you know, Yokich and Murray and like periodically Gary Harris, right? Gary Harris has a way of disappearing at times. And as you mentioned not a not a crowning achievement for Paul Millsap. And then you've got that bench that looked really deep during the season and looked less useful in the playoffs. And that's just a killer way to lose. But I think it's more about the blue. Blazers stepping forward and like taking that next step into. Hey, we're here to in the Western Conference. We spent so much time focused on the warriors. And the rockets that we kind of forgot about them. And this has been a hell of a playoffs for them. So far, I'm I'm with you. I don't know how many games they could potentially steal even without K D against the warriors. But really impressive for CJ to emerge. When Dame wasn't necessarily playing his best. I mean, Evan Turner came out of nowhere and helped out a little bit. I mean, Zach Lowe tweeted this out Evan Turner had three baskets and one made free throw the entire playoffs combined before that game, tracing all of a sudden he's like, yeah. I can play a little bit. I'll help you out. They played ten dudes in the scape. Yeah. I mean, it's maybe it's fitting they're going to go fight the war play the warriors. It's going to be strengthened numbers or in numbers. I mean, it's funny. The book on the blazers for so long the previous iterations of them was like, okay. So you trapped the ball at Dame Santa trap the ball out of mccown. Adams hands. And it's going to be Ken mohawk was beach. You can Alfred amino v two and oftentimes we for the most part, the answer has been no in that similarly true here, you know, those are they combined to go for a nine from the field nine points amino only played seven minutes in the game. You know, the matchups kind of went away from where Terry Stotts would typically use those guys I was I was wondering heading into this game game sevens can be conservative affairs that can beat. Oh, they make you play tight or you can feel the pull to play tight. So I was wondering, you know, is he going to lean more on those guys who offer more defensive aptitude guys who can switch on different assignments in more length and so on and so forth, or is he gonna say, you know, we've been having some success with these small ball things in more shooting on the floor. Try to put more pressure on the defense and also create more space to allow CJ to go ice o or Dame to go eyeso- and Terry Stotts leaned that way, he leaned in favor of defense. So that's why you see a lot more run for Rodney Rodney hood has earned botany. Align emerging as a thing again amazing. I don't even know if I can say again just emerging right? Yeah. It's not it might not be a reemergence. It's just an emergence. Right. Good for Rodney hood, because there's been mall times when I've been like when it's I always expected like Rodney hood to maybe become a thing. And he never was a thing until now with the blazers it's wild. I mean, but it's maybe not coincidental that you know, a guy who got kinda knocked into the dirt a little bit gets to a situation where a much is expected of him. But be the culture other. They have there is like, yeah, we we just got knocked the dirt about his bad as you can last year in that first round sweep, and we still believe in we still try to pick ourselves up and go back to it. And he has picked himself up and gone back to the hope is that you know, whatever he suffered with that, hyper extended knee is not gonna keep mouth for too long. Hopefully, be able to see him get another chance because he certainly has earned it with his play in the postseason in this industry, especially but you mentioned of ternary the basically playing like a point power. Forward. Roll on the second unit as a distributor and a guy who could play out of the posts can get himself to the foul line. He was really working hard on the on the defensive glass Z the nuggets were busted up the blazers on the offensive boards earlier in the series in that became a point of emphasis to try to sort of steal some of those second possessions in eliminate those those easier looks for Denver's offense, and he brought it he played fantastic. These last two games when they absolutely needed it. And those looks those small lineups that we don't more shooting more offense. It's opened up. More opportunities in game six Dame took advantage in the second half in game. Six game seven CJ McCollum put his stamp on it to the point where now people are going to look at what's McCollum has done during this postseason and say is this one of the best players in the league that hasn't made an all star team, and maybe that's recency buys, and maybe it's not, but you know, guy goes out in in the second round series twenty six point four points per game on forty six thirty eight seventy seven shooting splits like taking twenty four shots game. He's scoring with high efficiency without a lot of turnovers. It's all. You can ask for from complimentary guy to the point where debut Lillard goes three for seventeen in a game seven they win. I mean, you can't ask for much more than that. And we'll see how that matchup works out as before with Golden State. But at this point now, there is no way you cannot consider this season an unqualified success for the blazers in a a statement that they deserve to be in that consideration of that. That's here right below Golden State. And who knows what happens with the warriors this summer, you know, being really good in the west is hard. And if you do it for long enough, maybe some good things will happen for you. If they get second round CJ in first round Dame, all of a sudden that could be a thing for them against the warriors. It could make the series much more difficult than I think most people would expect it to be for Golden State before. I let you go because you're busy in very late on the east coast ensure that you would like to go to bed and or spend some time with your wonderful family. And maybe even watch that game of thrones show that you're talking about what chance do you give them to if not w-? Win the series than take a couple of games from the warriors. I think there's a pretty good chance. They take a couple of games from the warriors. I mean as impressive as what Golden State did in game six against Houston was, and it was it was fantastically. Impressive for them to go. The sort of the other way as you mentioned with four leeann planned ten guys to expand the rotation out and get good minutes from not just kevon looney. But also, you know of how funds McKinney steps up in Quinn, cook steps up, and so on this is still a team that is going to go into Western Conference final series without Kevin Durant. Started end if he comes back to what degree is he going to be limited. We'll have to see and the blazers are not scared of the warriors. There's too much familiarity for them to be shook by the match up. They might not win it. They might not be able to beat that talent. No matter what. Because as we saw when the warriors reorient around the Steph dream on pick and roll and reorients around so much of their motion as opposed to saying we have the ultimate in case of emergency break glass option. Just give the ball to Duran. Let him shoot over somebody. Their offense becomes. It's up more potent. But it's just more varied. They can operate in a different way. It activates more guys. So that might wind up being a really dangerous thing for Portland, but I think Portland showing that they've got more looks. They can go to as well. They've got more line of can go to Zach Collins being somebody who emerges as a guy who can stretch the floor a little bit of the five while still protecting the rim and working on the defensive glass. Really? It adds a difference. I mentioned that Antares thoughts has had to lean on it because of the absence of of Norwich in the limitations due to health and otherwise of cancer. So I think that there is there some different spices different looks than we've seen from Portland in the past in this up. I wouldn't put my money on them winning the series. But it wouldn't surprise me at all if they took a couple of games off into wound up, you know, pushing the warriors to a six game here in the series yet. Whatever happens as you said super successful season for the blazers. We are excited for all of our blazers friends who listened to and have appeared on the heat check program in Carmel. I'm sure is out there doing donuts on somebody's lawn. I hope it's terrible. For the enemies of the Carmella. I think we can all day for them. It's a great day for him a great day. For Jennifer, Jennifer is out there somewhere doing something. Probably very excited about it. I can't wait to read the feature on Jennifer. Somebody's out there. Somebody's got. It. Somebody's got reported out. That is waiting for waiting to hit send go and lock it down. Dan devine? This was excellent. Thanks for doing a buddy. My pleasure gones get some rest. Are we thank Dan Devine? I wanna thank Isaac Lee as well. And I wanna thank all of you for listening, please rate and review us on apple podcasts, if you would be so inclined, and please read all of our content on the ring dot com and don't forget throughout the playoffs. You've got the mismatch on Tuesdays corner. Three on Wednesdays group chat on Thursdays. And we're going to have a whole bunch of post game micro pods in your feet. So be on lookout for that. Is it can I will be back next week on Sunday for Monday. Thanks for listening. Everybody.