Not On CJ McCollum's Watch Will You Get Away With Praising His Competition For Even a Single Second Following His Heroic Game 7 Performance
For what it's worth, while "great" might be overstating it, I did think Torrey Craig's man-to-man defense of a red-hot off-the-dribble shooter was pretty good. Especially considering that the latter had to stop on a dime in a way that could make two nickels of change in order to create just enough space for a step-back, fadeaway jumper that still kept a series-deciding game within one possession.
What that opinion is worth, of course, is absolutely nothing, as CJ McCollum's public refusal to allow any sort of praise to be offered to an opponent tells you everything you need to know about the mindset of the delightfully bitter backcourt that he's a pissed off part of...
In theory, great defense played on a made shot would imply even better offense being played by the person who was absolute nails in hitting it under pressure, but that postgame jab wasn't about CJ McCollum making sure he was recognized amongst the NBA's elite scorers. That postgame jab was about chase-down blocking any attempt made at praising the team whose destruction he almost singlehandedly orchestrated down the stretch...
That postgame jab was about interrupting the recognition of an effort that pales in comparison to those that have gotten Lehigh University's first NBA draft pick to the peak of his professional career...
I'm not sure calling it an "inferiority complex" would be anywhere near as accurate calling it a nobody-is-superior complex, but what's actually important is that the attitude that caused CJ McCollum to demand the ball in putting the Nuggets in their rearview is eerily similar to the one that had Dame Lillard initiating an emasculation of Russell Westbrook in waving goodbye to the Thunder. That chip on the shoulder of the Trailblazers' backcourt is one seasoned with unsparing spite, and it's one of the few intangibles that could help satiate basketball fans' craving for a competitive Western Conference Finals by mitigating the intimidation factor of the Splash Brothers.
Whether KD is available or not, Portland will need the playmaking and shot-making of both Dame Lillard and CJ McCollum to match their eternal stance that they are at least on equal footing with everyone that lines up across from them if they hope to pull the upset. However, if there's one thing they have proven they don't lack it's the internal and external sources of motivation to do so...