CJ McCollum, the hero of the Blazers and the tweeter Jennifer

He threw his team in the seventh and is giving in these playoffs response to the tagline arising from Twitter: "I'm trying, Jennifer."

CJ McCollum is 27 years old and has become, at low fire (number 10 of the 2013 draft after four years in Lehigh), one of the best NBA bodyguards. Starting tomorrow, their Blazers return to a conference final, against some Warriors who are perhaps the only team in the NBA that can boast of having a better backcourt: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Splash Brothers, against Damian Lillard (native of Oakland, hunting in his land in the farewell of the Warriors to Oracle) and McCollum. Chapter III: 4-1 and 4-0 for those of the Bay in 2016 (second round) and 2017 (first). In total, an 8-1 that leaves little hope to the Oregon team, with little rest after playing an epic seventh game in Denver on Sunday and visiting a rival who is looking for his fifth consecutive Final and to which the Rockets have forced to recover his best version. But Portland is not dead: the tie starts without Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins (they lead all the playoffs without Jusuf Nurkic), and McCollum, at its current level, appears as a key factor in the series: the Warriors can not worry only of Lillard.

McCollum has four seasons above the 20 points on average (21 in the last) and in these playoffs is at 24.5 with 5.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists. It is one of the finest NBA scorers in the one-on-one, many times a counter style with suspensions from the middle distance and after a pot, a move that has become anathema in the advanced statistics departments of many franchises. In the last two games against the Nuggets, from 3-2 in favor of the Rockies, has added 67 points with 54% in shots for the 45 of a Lillard that after its exhibition against the little disciplined Thunder, has suffered a lot against the defense of the Nuggets: 25.1 points on average with 39% in field goals and 27% in triples. In the seventh, with the season at stake and in a crisis of tremendous scoring, the Blazers (with Lillard disconnected: 39 minutes without putting a triple, 1/12 in shots in the first three quarters) survived and traced 17 points of the hand of an imperial McCollum who scored 37 points with the firm wrist (17/29), he starred in some of the best defensive plays (especially a stopper to Murray, running and LeBron style) and told Terry Stotts to leave him the last ball, with 95-96, because he was going to "score for sure". And scored.

This McCollum, with the same ability to score but in full maturity and more and more complete as a player, is giving perfect response to Jennifer, a Twitter user who told her after the 2018 playoffs that she first won a match of playoffs and then talk. The Blazers had two roscos in a row, logical the Warriors in 2017 and very hard to fit (with field advantage included) the Pelicans last year.

McCollum's reply in another tweet has left one of the most used coletillas since then in the NBA world: "I'm trying Jennifer". I'm trying, Jennifer. And the Blazers, now, already have eight victories in these playoffs and have passed two rounds for the first time in 19 years. Jennifer claims her share of prominence and offers merchandising related to the anecdote that made her a small celebrity of the NBA Twitter .

The Blazers, from the Staples Center to the Oracle Arena

Since 2000, those 19 years, the Blazers have been 12 times in the playoffs and nine were eliminated in the first round. In an operating franchise almost always exemplary and with a social base enviable (Portland's great professional sports team), disappointments, or just a few icy playoff eliminations, had led to a sense of stagnation that has been fought from the offices with a beneficial commitment to continuity. position of Sttots and as for the Lillard-McCollum couple, against any current pointing towards the Step from one of the two in search of a more winning template format. Now, despite the loss of Nurkic and thanks to Warriors and Rockets sticking to the other side of the box, the team returns to where it had been almost two decades without reaching. Since then, he has almost always competed and avoided going through the NBA's sewers when, for example, after the 2015 playoffs, five of the roster's six main leagues went: LaMarcus Aldridge, Nico Batum, Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews and Arron Afflalo. But Lillard stayed, and McCollum emerged.

The challenge is now the most difficult of all: the Warriors who with Steve Kerr have won 17 of 18 playoff heats and have 21 consecutive series winning at least one home game. The prize Would be hisfirst NBA Final since 1992, when they lost (4-2) against the Michael Jordan Bulls. In 2000, the last time they reached a conference final, they also ran into an impossible, the Phil Jackson Lakers, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, who had won 67 games and marched towards the first of their three rings in a row .

But those were also some tremendous Blazers: Scottie Pippen, Rasheed Wallace, Damon Stoudamire, Steve Smith, Arvydas Sabonis, Detlef Schrempf ... After ravaging Wolves and Jazz (7-2 total), rallied a 3-1 against the Angelenos, put the 3-3 and came to be 55-71 in the seventh, in a Staples Center that took them ahead in one of the great comebacks of the history of the playoffs (89-84 final), culminated in full yellow fever with the iconic alley-oop from Kobe to Shaquille. Now the Blazers are back there, with nothing to lose and bathed in a competitive toughness that even Jennifer has been proud of.

Photos from as.com
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