The NBA playoffs have been a bit wonky so far. A year ago, through two games, road teams were 2-14. This year, all hell has broken loose after five lower seeds won road games over the weekend — and two more since then. Not even the Oklahoma City Thunder, as daunting a road opponent as any in the league, held serve, as they dropped Game 2 against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night. Perhaps more amazingly, after Wednesday night’s triple-header officially wrapped up the first two games of the playoffs, two road teams remain undefeated: Washington and Portland.
Washington has gained a two-game advantage over the Chicago Bulls for two reasons: Nene turning into Wilt Chamberlain, and the Bulls’ inability to put together anything close to resembling an offense. As for Portland’s 2-0 start, there’s only person to talk about: LaMarcus Aldridge. After torching the Rockets for 46 points and 18 rebounds in Game 1, Aldridge out-dueled Dwight Howard (32 points, 14 rebounds) in Game 2 to the tune of 43 points. If those scoring outbursts look unfamiliar, they should. As one Basketball-Reference sleuth on Reddit noted, Aldridge joins an elite company of players who have scored 40 or more points in consecutive playoff games. Since 1985, that list includes guys who don’t even need their full names spelled out: Magic, Michael, Shaq, AI, T-Mac, Kobe. That’s it. That’s the list.
The Blazers now head home for Games 3 and 4, where Rip City has been dying for playoff basketball ever since Brandon Roy’s final NBA hurrah. Speaking of which, Aldridge’s back-to-back performances in the limelight are somewhat bittersweet, as at one point, he was considered to be the third wheel in the Roy-Greg Oden-Aldridge power trio-that-never-was. The Rose City will always lament what might have been, but Aldridge’s historic showing is a nice — albeit brief — respite from years of misery.