CJ McCollum has reportedly agreed a three-year, $100million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

According to ESPN, McCollum's representative Sam Goldfeder has confirmed a deal has been struck.

This extension will be tacked on to the four-year, $106m contract McCollum signed in 2016.

The 27-year-old guard, who seemingly confirmed the news via responses to messages of congratulations on his official Twitter feed, became eligible for the extension last week and will partner with Damian Lillard in Portland's backcourt for the foreseeable future.

Lillard is fresh off a four-year, $196m supermax extension he signed in July and has played alongside McCollum since 2013-14.

McCollum averaged 21.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in 70 regular-season appearances with the Trail Blazers in 2018-19.

He helped Portland finish the year with a 53-29 record, which ranked third in the Western Conference.

Portland were swept aside by the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, though, and are still looking to take the next step and contend for a championship. 

The Trail Blazers are expected to get Jusuf Nurkic back next season as he suffered a season-ending leg injury in March. They also upgraded their frontcourt by trading for Hassan Whiteside and selecting North Carolina's Nassir Little in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Terry Stotts thinks effort will be more important than strategy when the Portland Trail Blazers try to avoid being swept by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

The Warriors moved 3-0 up in the series with a 110-99 victory over the Trail Blazers on Saturday, Stephen Curry scoring 36 points while Draymond Green claimed a triple-double.

Portland held an 18-point lead in the second quarter but added just 13 in the third as Golden State came from behind to move one win away from a fifth straight NBA Finals appearance.

Stotts felt the Trail Blazers offense "fell apart" in the second half and called for improved energy levels in Game 4 at Moda Center on Monday.

"We're going to give it our best effort on Monday. I mean, that's all that matters, is we give it our best effort. We give it everything we have on Monday, and whatever happens, happens," said Stotts.

"But that's [about] having the pride and professionalism to give it the best effort and to get a home win, and then go from there.

"I don't know if it's as much about strategy as about just rallying around and giving it the best effort possible."

Portland overcame the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round before beating the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 in the semi-finals, and C.J. McCollum, who scored a team-high 23 points on seven-of-20 shooting, is excited by the prospect of an all-or-nothing match.

"You never want a series to end, especially in your home court. Everybody on this team has pride," said McCollum.

"Everybody on this team understands what's at stake, and we've been through a lot of adversity this season and in our lives individually. We're looking forward to the challenge.

"We dug ourselves in quite a hole but now for us it's just one game at a time. The next game is Monday at home in front of our fans and we want to do our best to try to put on a good show."

Damian Lillard added: "It starts with one. We've still got another game on our floor, and that's a solid start for us.

"We can't look at Game 5 or Game 6 or any of that. We've just got to get one. We're confident that we can do that and then once we do that, we build from there."

The Golden State Warriors are one win closer to the NBA Finals after cruising past the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Warriors topped the Trail Blazers 116-94 at Oracle Arena in the Western Conference finals to take a 1-0 lead in the series on Tuesday.

Here are three takeaways from Golden State's strong start to the series.

 

Portland's stars were duds

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum both need to show up to make this series competitive, but they were cold in Game 1.

The two combined to score 36 points on 11-of-31 shooting. They also tallied 10 turnovers between them. 

If Lillard and McCollum cannot come close to the 54 points per game they have been averaging in the playoffs, the Trail Blazers will not have a shot.

 

Stephen Curry has found his stroke

Stephen Curry's shooting has been streaky at times during the postseason, but he caught fire against Portland.

The two-time NBA MVP has acknowledged the dislocated finger he suffered against the Houston Rockets has caused some discomfort, but it did not appear to be a factor in the Warriors' big victory.

Curry tallied a game-high 36 points and knocked down nine three-pointers along the way. He has taken his game up a notch in the absence of Kevin Durant, and it is doing wonders for his team.

Golden State are pushing the pace

The Warriors made a point to get out on the break against the Trail Blazers, who struggle in that area.

Golden State rank third in fast-break points per game (16.6) in this year's playoffs while Portland rank 15th (10.6).

The defending champions outscored Portland in transition 17-2, so the Trail Blazers should probably pick up the pace or figure out a way to slow down Golden State.

Damian Lillard is staying positive despite seeing the Portland Trail Blazers' playoff series lead over the Denver Nuggets wiped out on Sunday. 

Having come through a quadruple-overtime epic to nudge 2-1 in front in the series earlier in the week, the Blazers lost their advantage on home court, going down 116-112 to a Nuggets side again inspired by Nikola Jokic. 

But Portland won Game 2 in Denver and Lillard says that they can take confidence from the experience of that victory as they go back on the road on Tuesday. 

"It happens," Lillard told a news conference after shooting 28 points. "The playoffs are going to be competitive, it's not always going to go your way. 

"The good thing for us is that we won a game on their court, it's not like we lost both there, they came here and won one and we're going back facing elimination. 

"I think we're in a good space, 2-2. We know we're capable of winning on their floor. That's what we've got to go get done. 

"Obviously it's disappointing - you don't want to let an opportunity like this slip - but it happens. It's playoff basketball and we've got to move forward." 

He added: "Every series is about hoops, regardless of what else is happening, because we're playing basketball. It's two good teams trying to advance - that's all it is - and we've got an even series. 

"We've got to go back on their floor and win one on their floor, regardless of what happens, so we need to be trying to make that happen on Tuesday." 

The Blazers were comfortable in beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1 in the previous round and CJ McCollum acknowledges there is work to do to get back to that level. 

"I think it's entertaining because we play an entertaining brand of basketball," he said. "We get out and run, we shoot threes, we have isolation situations and we've got a pretty good home-court advantage. 

"I think [the Nuggets] play a nice brand of basketball, where there's backdoors, there's dribble hand-offs, taking that extra pass, things of that nature. I think that's why it's a fun game to watch. 

"In terms of the difference in the series, we didn't have lapses like we did tonight in the third quarter in the last series - that was the difference. 

"Only scoring 14 points in a quarter is really going to set you back and I think that was the difference. We didn't give up as many offensive rebounds in the Thunder series as well. 

"We have to tighten those little things up offensively, get a shot every possession, and defensively limit them to one shot and we'll be fine." 

The Portland Trail Blazers bounced back in against the Denver Nuggets in Game 2.

Portland levelled the NBA Western Conference semi-final series thanks to Wednesday's 97-90 victory.

The playoff clash will shift back to Portland, with Game 3 set for Friday.

Here are three takeaways from the Trail Blazers' series-levelling triumph midweek.

 

Portland's role players step up

Damian Lillard (14 points) and CJ McCollum (20 points), Portland's stars, failed to find their rhythms offensively throughout the game.

The two combined for 34 points but were inefficient from the field as they knocked down just 13 of their 37 total shots.

The Trail Blazers' role players, on the other hand, had a big night, which helped them secure the win. Enes Kanter recorded 15 points and nine rebounds, while Al-Farouq Aminu chipped in 11 points, along with 10 boards for Portland.

Rodney Hood came off the bench and knocked down one of the biggest shots of the game. Denver had closed the gap to seven points with a little more than two minutes to play, but Hood connected on a corner three-pointer to extend Portland's lead back to double digits.

The forward later hit a pair of clutch free throws to seal the victory. He finished with 15 points in 27 minutes.

 

Nuggets' shooting off the mark

The Nuggets were terrible from behind the arc in Game 2.

Portland completely took the three-pointer away from the Nuggets, as they finished six of 29 from distance. Denver guard Jamal Murray was two of eight from three-point range while Gary Harris missed all five of his attempts.

The Nuggets — who shot 41.4 per cent from three-point range in Game 1 — eventually began pounding the ball inside in the second half because they were so ineffective from deep. They will need to improve their shooting in Portland. Otherwise, they definitely are at risk of falling behind in the series.

 

Denver need Jokic to score

Nikola Jokic impacted the game in multiple ways.

The Denver star dictated his team's offense from the post, as he typically does. He received multiple paint touches and either kicked the ball out to open team-mates or cutters in the lane. The center was also a factor on the glass.

Yet, Jokic did not look for his shot much until his team were trailing by double digits in the fourth quarter. In total, he finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists.

Jokic is a great passer and is clearly the focal point of the Nuggets' offense. The team will need him to be more aggressive moving forward if they want to advance to the Western Conference finals.

The Portland Trail Blazers topped the Denver Nuggets 97-90 to level their NBA Western Conference semi-final series on Wednesday.

Portland bounced back from their loss in the opening game to tie the series at 1-1 midweek – Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum leading the Trail Blazers past the Nuggets.

The Trail Blazers took control early, entering half-time with a 15-point lead and holding off a late Denver run in the fourth quarter to come away with the win.

Lillard (14 points) and McCollum (20 points) failed to find their rhythms offensively, but did just enough to help their team. The pair combined for 34 points on 13 of 37 shooting.

Center Enes Kanter recorded 15 points and nine rebounds, while Al-Farouq Aminu chipped in 11 points, along with 10 boards for Portland. Rodney Hood also came off the bench and reached double figures with 15 points.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, struggled from the field throughout the game. They knocked down just 35.1 per cent of their total attempts and were an abysmal six of 29 from three-point range.

Denver center Nikola Jokic tallied 16 points on seven-of-17 shooting and added an impressive 14 rebounds.

The series will now shift back to Portland, with Game 3 set for Friday.

The match-up between the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers should make for an intriguing Western Conference semi-final series.

The Trail Blazers easily took care of the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in the first round, while the Nuggets managed to advance by topping the San Antonio Spurs in a seventh-game decider.

The Nuggets finished with a 3-1 record against Portland in the regular season and have prevailed on six of the last seven occasions the teams have met.

“I think we're well-prepared," Nuggets forward Paul Millsap said, according to quotes in the Denver Post.  "We've been prepared for them all year. I think we've got a pretty good scout on them."

Here are three things that could decide who goes on to contest the Conference Finals in the West.
 

Trail Blazers assignment on Nikola Jokic

Jokic has had a breakout season for the Nuggets.

The gifted center averaged career highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals, helping Denver to a first play-off appearance since 2012-13. He made his first All-Star team and is in the MVP conversation, too.

Jokic continued his stellar play in his first NBA postseason series as he averaged 23.1 points, 12.1 rebounds and 9.1 assists over the seven games against the Spurs.  

Portland do not have a viable option who can match up with Jokic since they lost Jusuf Nurkic to a leg injury in late March. The Trail Blazers could use Enes Kanter on the Nuggets' star man, however, he struggles defensively and is dealing with a shoulder injury. Zach Collins may also spend time guarding Jokic, but he is inexperienced and plays only about 14 minutes per game in the play-offs.

Portland will need to figure out a way to slow down Jokic if they want to advance.

Battle of the backcourts

The Trail Blazers' strength is their guards.

Damian Lillard consistently performs at an All-Star level and almost single-handedly led Portland past the Thunder.

"He's special," Portland coach Terry Stotts told the media. "Dame's had a special year. He is in the category of all those guys that he probably doesn't get as much acknowledgement for, but he has been doing it. People in Portland know he's been doing it, he carried our team this year, so that's who he is and I'm thankful for it."

Lillard is complemented by C.J. McCollum, who is a strong secondary scoring option and playmaker.

Meanwhile, Denver's backcourt features young guards Jamal Murray and Gary Harris. That pair will look to limit Lillard and McCollum defensively while offsetting their production with offense of their own at the other end.

Blazers' bench production

The Trail Blazers finished the regular season 18th in the NBA in bench scoring - and their production has fallen off in the play-offs.

Portland's second string are averaging just 18.8 points per game in the postseason, and Stotts has been forced to rely heavily on his starters. While that was not an issue against the Thunder, it could present a problem against the Nuggets, who have a stronger second unit.

The Trail Blazers will need more from their bench in this series if they are to progress any further in the Western Conference.

Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum insists his team-mates will retain their unwavering focus after moving to the brink of the Western Conference semi-finals. 

McCollum scored 27 on 10-of-20 shooting as the Blazers opened up a 3-1 series lead over Oklahoma City Thunder with an 111-98 win in Game 4. 

Another win in Portland on Tuesday would see the Blazers advance and McCollum is ready to stay above the fray when it comes to trash talk. 

"I think we're a lot more mature than we were in past years," McCollum told reporters. "We can handle adversity and understand what we want to accomplish. 

"We didn't want anything to get in the way, we didn't want anything to interfere with that. Multiple times we had discussions about not saying anything to anyone.  

"If they're not wearing a black or grey jersey, don't talk to them. Don't talk to the refs, don't talk to the other team and let's get out of here with a win 

"That was our mindset. Having been through what we've been through historically we understand what we need to do, who we need to talk to and how we need to execute."

The Blazers were beaten 4-0 in the first round against the New Orleans Pelicans last year, having suffered the same fate against the Golden State Warriors in 2017 – setbacks that act as enduring motivation for McCollum. 

"We got swept last year. It was really embarrassing, and everybody talked about it," he said. 

"It was on TV every day. They talked about us getting swept, they talked about me getting traded, talked about how we can't win together. 

"We remember, and we know that feeling of going home early." 

Barring a stunning turnaround, it will be the Thunder and Russell Westbrook heading home early. 

Star point guard Westbrook finished the game by missing 10 straight shots and relied heavily on his jump shot throughout, taking only three shots in the paint and missing each one. 

"I get deep paint any time I want, but I always make the right play," Westbrook said, as quoted by ESPN.  

"So, when I'm in deep paint I find guys on the perimeter. My job is to make sure guys get the basketball.  

"I don't need to shoot a layup every single time. But I'm in the paint all game, and that's how it goes sometimes.  

"Shot attempts is not the only thing that I can do to make sure I'm in it for the defence and kick it out to make open shots."

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