For some reason, people rarely ask me what the post-game atmosphere is like after a victory. But when the team loses, everyone wants to know what the vibe in the locker room was like.
Thing is, the Trail Blazers locker room after a win isn't really all that different than after a loss. That's not to say wins and losses don't have an affect on the mood of some guys, but when you play 82 games a season, emotions tend to even out. And even though the the stakes are heightened during the playoffs, guys know that one game, be it a win or a loss, is still just one game.
So what was the locker room like Saturday night? As even-keeled as it always is. Same goes for the bus ride from the arena to the hotel. It wasn't dour, but it rarely is. Guys know they have to play better than they did Saturday night, but again, it was one game of a best of seven series.
"The most important game is when you try to get the fourth win," said Nicolas Batum. "You get the fourth win, you're good. It was the first game. The Spurs maybe lost the first game every time and their the champions every time. That's one game. That's not 3-0, that's 1-0. So we need the next one, want to win the next one, but it's not 4-0. We've got some more games."
Batum's attitude toward the Game 1 loss and the series in general was echoed by others on the locker room. This team, unlike Trail Blazers teams in recent years past, have been here before. They've lost Game 1s and they've won Game 1s. The results, unfortunately, have been the same regardless the past two years, but at least they found out through experience that a playoff series is neither won nor lost in Game 1.
They also found out that they can play subpar basketball, get out-shot from both the three-point and free-throw lines and still have a chance to win on the road.
"They basically did what they were supposed to do," said Gerald Wallace. "That's why you play the regular season, to get homecourt advantage. They came out and took the first game at home. But at the same time we showed we can play with them. We put ourselves in a good position to win, we just didn't execute when it came down the stretch. Our main thing is getting off to a better start to start the game, being consistent all four quarters, then execute and finish in the last five or six minutes of the game."
If they can do all those things in Game 2, then they'll have some reason to celebrate post-game in the locker room, though I doubt they will. After all, there will still be yet another game to play.