Live by the three, die by the three

I am old enough to remember when dunking was not allowed in basketball. And a basket counted for two points, no matter where you took the shot from.

It's a different game now, of course. They painted another line of the floor, and a shot from beyond there counts for three points. You watch the pro game on TV, and there are more three-point shots being taken than ever. It feels like half the shots are three-pointers these days. And players are getting better and better at getting them to go in. Teams are back to scoring 130 or even 140 points on some nights, and nobody's surprised.

Some teams live and die by the three-point shot, the Portland Trail Blazers being one of them. They launch enormous numbers of long bombs, and they tend to make a lot of them. Heck, their star player, Damian Lillard, confidently makes shots so far away from the basket that they ought to count for four points.

Maybe with technology, we could give out fractions of points for a made basket, and have the number vary based on how far away from the basket the shooter is standing. There could be a range of between 1 and 4, in tenths of a point. 

Or maybe not.

Anyway, last night the Blazers took 45 three-point shots in their playoff game, and missed 31 of them. Lillard missed 11. His partner in crime, C.J. McCollum, missed seven. And they didn't seem to have a Plan B. As a result, they lost to Denver, one of whose players, Austin Rivers, was raining down three-pointers that actually went in the basket late in the game.

And so Portland finds itself in the hole, 2 games to 1 in a seven-game series, with home-court advantage shifting back to the Noogies. To win the series now, the Blazers will need to take three games out of four. If the series goes the distance, two games will be in Portland and two in Denver. The locations will alternate with each game from here on out.

The Blazers, who were better on the road than at home this year, may not be clicking their heels at the fact that tomorrow's game is here in Portland. Tipoff is at 1 in the afternoon. If the Blazers do not prevail, it could be the last game of the season in the Moda Center.