As people May know, I have been very critical of CJ McCollum’s play throughout the season. After putting up phenomenal numbers last postseason for the Blazers, this year has been rather flat to say the least. But with a ton of rest prior to the NBA restart, it’s safe to say that McCollum has returned into the player that we all know him to be.
McCollum has understood the importance of these eight games for Portland. A team who has struggled with the pieces they have, it was time to get locked and loaded to fight for a playoff position. Although the Blazers were able to get Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins back, it’s obvious that this team cannot get far without McCollum’s greatness. Damian Lillard has done everything that he can do to keep this Portland team afloat all year long. It is great to watch his running mate finally step up and give his team exactly what they need to succeed.
It’s for certain that many did not know what to expect out of McCollum going into the bubble. Were we going to get an All-Star or another bust who wasn’t going to show up when it mattered most? It’s been a rather inconsistent for most of the season for the 2nd star of the Portland Trailblazers. With the work that he’s put in over the years as an elite two guard, McCollum knew it was time to show what he is really made of.
McCollum showed the world what he was about in game 1 vs Memphis. It was really his game to lose as he was in attack mode from start to finish. McCollum began the game really dissecting the Grizzlies defense getting good looks around the basket. But as the 2nd half rolled around, that’s when he started to find a rhythm from the perimeter. McCollum’s outside shooting was part of huge contributions for Portland’s late rally in the 4th to defeat a young Grizzlies team.
The Blazers were very ecstatic about McCollum’s performance in the first game. With the importance of landing that eight spot in a very tough Western Conference, it was great to watch everyone rolling and staying on the right page. It was only one game, but the Blazers definitely understood that they were going to get everyone’s best as the season. would wind down.
McCollum continued his dominance going forward. His efficiency improved from before the season suspended and he has been in another zone offensively. The underrated part of this run is that every team Portland has played have been elite playoff teams with hopes of making it out of their conference. With every team looking to take each matchup, McCollum understands he has the experience and skill set to put on a show against anybody in the NBA.
These matchups that the Blazers are facing is great for the team if they end up landing the eight spot. If they do potentially wind up making the playoffs, their eight game run could fully prepare the team with their matchup with the Lakers. As the momentum continues to roll to end the year, the Blazers could possibly use their experience to make some damage if everything works out for them.
I don’t expect CJ McCollum to slow down anytime soon. There is too much at stake for Portland as of right now. Even if they do make the playoffs, there’s still work to be done in their circle. Many people have counted them out all season long and their playoff disappointments still haunt them to this day. It would mean everything if the team came together to take down a Lakers team led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis. If the dynamic duo of Lillard and McCollum continue to feed off of one another on the court, an upset could potentially happen as they can shock the world right in front of us.