How the Portland Trail Blazers Won by Losing

Elwanda Tulloch

After a nail-wrecking set of qualifying games, three playoff rows, one unlikely win, a Damian Lillard knee sprain, a whole heap of bizarre Mario Hezonja plays, a brief wildcat strike, and a Dame-less contest where they left it all on the court, the Portland Trail Blazers’ season is over. In a way, it was a metaphor for the whole season: they came, they tried, they threw out all the gambits they had, but they just didn’t have the players they needed to make the magic happen.

The Blazers’ brief playoff berth is probably the strangest in history, only earned because of the colossal failure of the modern American state coming to a head when a once-every-100-years global health crisis left the entire country reeling and gave them time to get Jusuf Nurkic back and reduce Hassan Whiteside’s minutes in the qualifiers.

They almost didn’t lose their way out of the

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