PORTLAND – In many ways, overreacting to a single game in an attempt to form a narrative is the whole raison d’etre of the NBA Playoffs — it’s not hard to find a think-piece questioning the longevity of the Warriors’ dynasty, because even though it has been historically successful, Golden State lost in historic fashion to the Clippers in Game 2.
The same was true after the Blazers’ opening salvo versus the Thunder. In a series where they were supposed to be doomed by the loss of Jusuf Nurkic, they threatened to take a hatchet to the narrative that they were overmatched against Oklahoma City. Playing Enes Kanter at center full-time was supposed to be a death sentence. Instead, Kanter breathed life into Portland’s playoff aspirations by doing the exact opposite of what we expected.
Every postseason, there’s a player who comes out of nowhere and has a monster game that dominates the news-cycle for a few days. After opening weekend, that player was Kanter. It was even more poetic that it came against his former team, particularly his former coach, who was famously caught on camera proclaiming Kanter’s unplayability in the postseason because of his well-documented liabilities as a defender.
Despite his big game, those deficiencies still caused plenty of skepticism about whether that was sustainable. The problem with surprise performances like that is that they’re no longer a surprise anymore. Opponents have time to regroup and clean up some of their mistakes. They’re usually ready the next time around, especially with Kanter and his former team, who understands the weaknesses in his game better than anyone.