Charles Barkley still believes that the Portland Trail Blazers are going to the NBA Finals.
“I tell you what, I’m all in on the Trail Blazers,” Barkley said Sunday after Portland’s 104-99 Game 1 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I like Portland. I thought before [Jusuf] Nurkic got hurt, they had a chance of winning the West. … I still think so.”
Barkley is also fond of Blazers forward, Enes Kanter.
“You hear all these guys … talk about Kanter, ‘He’s not a great defender,'” Barkley said. “There’s been really good players in the NBA who weren’t great defenders. That guy is going to get you a double-double every night. All these people talk about what guys can’t do, instead of what they can do.”
For those keeping score at home: Kanter had 20 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks in the Blazers’ Game 1 win.
Barkley and his Blazers Finals talk is nothing new!
Back in March, both Barkley and TNT co-analyst, Kenny Smith both agreed that the Trail Blazers will make their first appearance in the NBA Finals since 1992.
“I like Portland in the Finals,” Barkley told me last month.
“With [Damian] Lillard and [CJ] McCollum. The addition of Rodney Hood and Enes Kanter. I like them in the West.”
What say you, Kenny?
“Charles, he can say someting crazy all of the time,” Kenny Smith told me.
“I don’t normally say it. I’m just saying, not every day in a seven game series. I’m talking about just three games: shoot six for ten in between to combat guys shooting four for ten from three point range. They have it, they have it! So to me, that separates them when they’ve been so close every year to get over the hump, that they can get to the Western Conference Finals and they’re a clear and present agent for the Warriors because the Warriors have had trouble with those two guards even in that set. And even, until this year, Oklahoma had trouble with those two guards; until this year.”
Fair and objective is what Barkley still seems to be though. Also on TNT’s Inside The NBA on Sunday, Barkley told host Smith, Ernie Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal:
“If you don’t like Russell Westbrook, you don’t like basketball.”
Russell’s team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, opened up their NBA Playoff series with the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.
Damian Lillard led all scorers with 30 points, while Russell Westbrook and Paul George combined for 50 points in the losing effort.
Both teams will go at it tonight for Game 2.