A Hood Story

This is what we got him for. As the playoffs continue on you’re seeing a number of former Cleveland Cavaliers making impacts in this year's playoffs. George Hill has looked great for Milwaukee, Iman Shumpert was getting meaningful playoff minutes for the Rockets. There is no bigger impact from these former Cavaliers though than that of Rodney Hood, who is averaging 16 points per game in this playoff series against the Denver Nuggets. In 6 games against the Nuggets, he has only failed to reach double-digit scoring once. It’s an unusual sight for most Trail Blazer fans to see a wing pump fake a three, attack the rim and elegantly get to his spot for a midrange (yeah I said it, midrange) jumper. Rodney Hood this time last year was criticized for his playoff performances as he and a number of other players were traded to Cleveland at the trade deadline to be the supporting cast to a LeBron James led finals team. Now, after being acquired by the Trail Blazers at this year's trade deadline we are seeing what Koby Altman, Cleveland’s General Manager envisioned when he made the trade. Though Hood has been outspoken since being acquired by the Blazers that this is much more a fit for him “Sometimes you make changes, it’s for the better. You’re around a great group of guys. Guys kinda have the same mentality as me, just want to win. Good people, the community is great out here, it just adds to it.” He said after his game six performance. 25 points, which marks a career playoff high for Hood. It seems as if he’s coming into his own before Trail Blazers (and the rest of the NBA’s) fans eyes. Earlier this season I wrote about Hood after a 27 point coming out party. I talked about his performance, how easy he makes it look and how it could make a difference in a playoff game. Having the ability to score 20+ any given night can swing a series. “There’s nothing like going into someone’s building in game seven and winning,” Hood said after Thursday nights win. Hood finished last night with 25 points and a +21 plus-minus.

The lineup that did the most damage came with Hood, second-year big man Zach Collin’s who finished with 14 points and five blocks and Evan Turner. Although Turner has been limited scoring the ball in the 2019 playoffs he finished with a plus-6 plus-minus. According to The Athletic’s, Jason Quick, Turner has assisted 17 times this playoff serires and only committed two turnovers. Turner who has been a scrutinized player among Trail Blazers fans has been a huge part of shaping the identity of this tight-knit group that won over 50 games this season. To go along with his ability to find the open man, Turner has played solid defense against Denver’s Paul Millsap this series when asked to do so. As he did in the fourth quarter of game six. I expect Terry Stotts to go to Turner a bit more in game seven. The Trail Blazers are now just one game away from a Western Conference Finals birth for the first time in almost 20 years. Had you told me after Jusuf Nurkic’s injury that two months later this team would be one game away from a Western Conference Finals birth I would have called you a liar. But this team never quit, they never looked for excuses and even after being blown out on the road in game five, they stayed together and pushed back to force a game seven. I’m proud of this team, and I don’t think it’s over just yet. There is still plenty to be decided but one thing is certain, the Trail Blazers are a resilient team that refuse to lay down. Rodney Hood has turned out to be a great acquisition, credit Neil Olshey for turning two bench players into a guy that just scored 25 in a must-win game six playoff game Game seven will be played on Sunday, May 12th at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:30 Sunday afternoon.

Keep rooting Rip City. Your Trail Blazers love having their backs against the wall. Doubted and counted out. Come Sunday, game seven, they’ll be ready to silence the naysayers and rise above. To all of the team moms out there rooting on the Trail Blazers, (or Nuggets) Sunday afternoon, happy mothers day. -Brody Voge

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