It’s the end of a long and beautiful series for CJ McCollum. Since being drafted by the Blazers in 2013, the back had never missed the playoffs. Despite an outsider status, the Thunder won on the floor of the Pelicans after a meeting which was played on one or two throws of the dice.
“ The offensive rebounds, the second chances, the baskets in transition that we offered, the lost balls, that’s what we lost », lists Damian Lillard’s former teammate, which could also assert its small evening with the shootings (14 points with 5/15). ” It’s an extremely difficult defeat, but it’s played over one game. Cheers to Oklahoma », greets his coach Willie Greenregretting the approach ” a bit laid back of his team in the third quarter, lost 24 to 39.
Of this defeat, they will not say much more. ” We are extremely proud of this group, of what they have accomplished this season. We went through a lot this year, in terms of health, injuries, guys outside the rotation which reshuffled the cards, family events… “list Green, recalling the absences of Larry Nance Jr. and Jose Alvarado for this game. Like Mark Daigneault opposite, he had to play four of his five starters for more than 35 minutes.
And then there is the great absentee, Zion Williamson. The one who, for the second time in his career, has not been able to exceed the bar of 30 games played. Of which ten in common only with the two major players, CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram. Enough to generate a major “what if” of the Pelicans season.
It looked really really good on paper
” We thought about it throughout the year, from the start, what we could have looked like. But we continue to live in the present, and see what happens with the team we have. It would have been great to have our whole group, but it never happened, we hope it will be the case next year », wish ingramnoting that alongside this trio is Herbert Jones, ” one of the best defenders in the league and Trey Murphy, “ best shooter in the league “.
” It looked really really good on paper “, Formula, rightly, the winger whose training had confirmed this potential by reaching the heights of the Western conference, briefly, at the end of 2022. But the successive absences of Zion and him changed the dynamics of the team. As McCollum recalls, the Pels’ record has sunk into the negative but his team has won 9 of his last 12 games to give himself a chance to qualify for the playoffs.
” If you had told me that we would only play ten games together to end the season with 42 wins, I would have said that is madness. “says the leader who regrets a few defeats against the Rockets or the Magic which weighed on the collective balance sheet. He himself played despite a thumb injury which should require surgery next week. ” I had to do it two months ago but I wanted to help the team go to the playoffs. It wasn’t ideal but adversity builds character. »
It is in this context that Herbert Jones and Trey Murphy in particular, whose progress is underlined by the leaders of the team, were able to develop. So despite this premature exit from the road, McCollum is convinced that the Pelicans have made ” steps in the right direction. To win in the future, we have to play together, that the best players are on the field, especially in the big games. This is what it will take for a long run in the playoffs. Willie Green puts it another way: We all know how good we can be. “Provided you are in good health.
|Trey Murphy III||79||31.0||48.4||40.6||90.5||0.7||2.8||3.6||1.4||0.8||1.1||0.5||2.0||14.5|
|Larry Nance, Jr.||65||21.2||61.0||33.3||69.6||1.6||3.8||5.4||1.8||0.6||0.9||0.6||2.0||6.8|
|Kira Lewis, Jr.||25||9.4||45.5||44.1||86.4||0.2||1.1||1.3||0.9||0.4||0.4||0.1||1.0||4.6|