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Trail Blazers Clinch Playoff Spot with Russell Westbrook's Nuggets Buzzer-Beater

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 9, 2017

Apr 9, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the first half against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder weren't the only team to benefit from Russell Westbrook's game-winning shot to beat the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.

Oklahoma City's 106-105 win clinched the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference for the Portland Trail Blazers, who were idle Sunday. The Blazers are 40-40 and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the 38-42 Nuggets with two games remaining.

Westbrook, who recorded his NBA-record 42nd triple-double of the season, hit a three from 36 feet out as time expired in the Thunder win. He finished with 50 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists, setting an NBA record with his third 50-point triple-double. 

The Blazers and their players were understandably thankful for Westbrook's effort:

Trail Blazers @trailblazers

@okcthunder thank you

CJ McCollum @CJMcCollum

Thanks Russ ... you the real MVP ✊🏾

Damian Lillard @Dame_Lillard

Russ MVP bro. 👀

Portland has made the playoffs in four straight seasons and seven of the last nine. Four of those prior appearances ended in first-round exits, and the Blazers will in all likelihood make it five.

The top-seeded Golden State Warriors await in the first round and are an incredibly bad matchup for a below-average Portland defense. Having already taken a slight step back from their surprising 44-38 record a year ago, the Blazers are likely going to fail in their effort to match last year's second-round appearance.

That said, history tells us not to entirely count out No. 8 seeds. Golden State knows better than any team that anything is possible. 

For more news, rumors and related stories about Russell Westbrook, the Portland Trail Blazers and the NBA, check out the NBA and Blazers streams on Bleacher Report's app.

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