Tonight the Portland Trail Blazers will face the L.A. Clippers in Game 6 of their first round series with a 3-2 lead.
With a win, the Blazers would advance to the second round where they'd face the Golden State Warriors sans Stephen Curry, a seemingly fortuitous turn of events if you ignore that the Warriors just demolished the Houston Rockets by 33 points just the other night.
Before watching tonight's game — and looking ahead to the matchup with the Blazers — I strongly recommend checking out Blazers Edge to take the pulse of Blazers' fans right now. Eric Griffith of Blazers Edge wrote a nice piece yesterday that captures why tonight's game is not only big for the Blazers but also Oakland native Damian Lillard.
...the circumstances surrounding Friday's game now offer a new level of playoff experience for Lillard as a leader. The game will provide an opportunity for him to lead a team as heavy favorites and step on the throats of a weakened opponent for the first time in his career - a chance to find motivation beyond the perpetual "chip on his shoulder."
This experience could prove vital because, if all goes according to plan, the Blazers will be conference heavyweights in 2-3 years and Lillard will lose the option to use the "underdog" mentality in earnest in coming seasons. Tomorrow's game will give him a chance to test those waters so that the (hopeful) eventual transition to Vegas sweetheart will be less traumatic.
Clearly, we want the Blazers to lose this game — a loss would mean a Game 7 and a delay of the second round series against the Warriors, which would give Curry a couple of extra days to heal up and come back sometime during the series. But a win would clearly be big for this franchise and its fans, which makes it worth watching.
Game 6 - Toronto Raptors at Indiana Pacers 7:30 PM ESPNews/NBA TV
Game 6 - Miami Heat at Charlotte Hornets 8:00 PM ESPN
Game 6 - L.A. Clippers at Portland Trail Blazers 7:30 PM (local) 10:30 PM (Eastern) ESPN