Friday, January 2, 2009

Hornets Preview

UPDATE: Joel Przybilla is a go for tonight's game (Wrist), and Roy is actually at about 50/50 (Hamstring). He will do some game speed before the game to see how he feels. It will be a gametime decision.

Tonight’s game against the Hornets will be an interesting and telling game for the Blazers. I am interested to see how they will play after such a big win on Tuesday. I think how they come out tonight will tell us how far along the Blazers really are. Most young teams have a hard time coming out and playing well after such an emotional win, so a good performance tonight out of our guys would be extremely encouraging.

It is reported on the Trail Blazers website that they will again be without Brandon Roy, who is officially listed as questionable. So it will again take a balanced attack tonight from everyone on our team to fill the offensive void left by Roy. Here are my keys to the game.

Keys to the Game

  1. Aldridge Must Control David West Without Much Help
    1. New Orleans has a ton of 3-pt. shooters who are great at what they do, so we cannot afford to send constant double teams at David West, leaving Aldridge one on one. If he can somewhat contain West, I think we will have a good shot at winning.
  2. We Must Keep Chris Paul Out of the Lane
    1. Easier said then done, but similar to West, we cannot afford to double team/help off too many of their players. They thrive on 3’s (3rd best in the league), so limiting their open looks would be huge.
  3. We Must Maximize Every Possession
    1. The Hornets also play at a very slow pace (2nd only to us). So that means the importance of every possession is magnified. We must limit their 2nd chance points and our turnovers. If we do these I think we have enough offensive firepower to win this game.
  4. Take Care of the Ball
    1. No more Travis Outlaw bringing up the ball, we need to make sure and take care of it and limit our turnovers, otherwise New Orleans will have a hayday.
  5. Build Off of Our Boston Win
    1. We need to not forget the execution and focus that we had for the Boston game. Against elite teams, we must bring that every night. Let’s hope the Blazers do bring it.

I am anxious to see how Oden performs tonight, after what I thought was his best performance to date. Also will Aldridge have a hangover from his fierce competition with KG on Tuesday? I sure hope not because this is the 2nd game of a 4 game stretch vs. Boston, New Orleans, Lakers, and Detroit, and if we could come out of that with a .500 record, I would be pretty darn happy.

Gamblers Corner

The Blazers are a 1.5 point favorite with an O/U of 183. I am going to take the Blazers and the under. Even though I think there is a risk of a hangover from the Boston game, I think the 2 days off will help. I like the under because as I mentioned before, New Orleans plays at the 2nd slowest pace in the NBA right after the Blazers.

Goose is going to take the Blazers and the Over.

So Far…

Kyle vs. Spread 2-3

Goose vs. Spread 2-3

Kyle vs. O/U 2-3

Goose vs. O/U 4-1

And the winner of last game’s score prediction was Derek! Although it was a win by default (no one else made a prediction), it was the closest guess we’ve had so far this year! Derek predicted 94-89 Blazers, with the actual being 91-86 Blazers. Great work D-Block! It is now:

Yost – 2

Derke - 1

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Blazer Links From Around the Web

I am sure just like me, you guys are still enjoying that win last night. Well coincidently there was a big article on Aldridge released today from the new ESPN Magazine. The article touches on Aldridge’s mentality rather then strictly on basketball. If you have some free time I highly recommend reading it.

Jason Quick from the Oregonian also wrote an article on Aldridge after the game. It is also an interesting piece and is fairly short.

Here is an interesting little piece on what happened at the end of the half of the Boston game last night.

David Thorpe released his weekly rookie update. He has Rudy ranked 5th and Oden 6th. He did not update his thoughts on Rudy but had this to say about big men and Oden in particular:

Watch an NBA game, and you'll often hear the words "rookie mistake." Miss a layup? Rookie mistake. Illegal screen? Rookie mistake. Weak foul leading to the "and 1"? You guessed it, another rookie mistake.

But, in most cases, that's rubbish. Basketball is a game full of mistakes, and you probably can find at least one made on every possession by either team or both, by rookies and veterans alike.

Yes, there is a learning curve to the NBA game. But real rookie mistakes are not knowing the talent of your opposition, not being able to guess what play is coming or what move is coming by the guy he's protecting, and not having a feel for what the opponent might do when he's guarding you.

Only experience and a desire to spend extra time studying game films and statistics will help rookies learn this nuanced part of the game. But to think these guys make certain mistakes just because they are rookies is simply not true. Most of these guys have already played hundreds of important games in their basketball careers. They've even played many games against the same guys they are seeing now, whether in college or AAU tournaments. The game has been mostly the same for them every time.

I'm especially irritated by the way rookie bigs are treated. They are held under more scrutiny, as if they aren't allowed to make mistakes. And if they do, it's because they are playing their first season in the NBA. Please. If you look at the rookie bigs, you will find no fewer than 13 guys who have a better-than-solid chance at being good NBA players. Some of them already are outperforming a good number of veteran bigs.

So, let's check on the good and bad from our rookies this week, with a special eye on some big men turning heads with their play.”

On Oden “Early in the first quarter against Toronto on Saturday, Oden backed in Jermaine O'Neal and attempted a right-handed hook. (His hook tends to come off a right arm that isn't fully extended.) O'Neal snuffed it out with ease, but Oden stayed with the play, grabbed the ball back and viciously dunked it with two hands over JO. The fans loved it. But that wasn't my favorite Oden play of the night. This was: In the third quarter, Oden ran down the floor as the trail post and initially set an influence screen at the top to free up Steve Blake. Then he released to the weak side as LaMarcus Aldridge had the ball in the midpost. Oden set a flare screen for Brandon Roy in the corner, but LA passed the ball back to Blake at the top. With 10 seconds on the shot clock, Oden realized that Blake was not likely to break his guy down and create a shot, so he raced up to set a ball screen. Then he rolled to the rim, put his hand up and caught a pass from Blake that he flushed. What I loved about that play was his hustle to set the screen, realizing that every second counts.”

Lastly, check out Blazers play by play guy, Mike Barrett’s Blog on the game...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Anythinggg Issss Possssiblllle

Wow what a win.....Good night for Oregon sports huh?

It was a rough start for the Blazers offensively as it became apparent that the Blazers needed to find that offensive effort to make up for the huge void left by Brandon Roy’s absence. It did not help that the Blazers were going up against one of the stingiest defenses in the league. However, after the rocky first quarter where the Blazers only scored 13 points, they rebounded nicely in the second quarter as Oden (who had his best showing of the year) Outlaw, and Blake stepped up and began carrying the team offensively. Oden was aggressive on both ends of the floor and did an excellent job of getting position down low and even showed his ability to hit a face up jumper. He matched the Celtic’s aggressiveness with his own, and truly set the tone for the entire Blazers team, and although his stat line only read 13 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals, his presence was an even bigger factor in the outcome of this game.

The Blazers entered the half down by one and both teams came out sluggish to start the third, however the big difference was the 17-2 run the Blazers had at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth. The Blazers managed to keep the lead throughout most of the fourth quarter stopping all the Celtics attempts at runs to get back into the game. What came up huge for the Blazers throughout the entire game was the great defensive play on both Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. Originally it would seem like Rajon Rondo would have a hay day against the Blazers PG’s but they did a great job of making Rondo a non factor. Various Blazer defenders helped hold Ray Allen to only 12 points on 2-11 shooting from the field. All of the keys to the game were met effectively most notably the Blazers stepping up and meeting the physical and intimidation of the Celtics. Hopefully we can look back on this as a turning point for this team, where they stopped being scared of the elite teams and started playing like one. Also they out rebounded the Celtics 44-29 (13-5 offensively).

Individual Performances

Steve Blake: Blake continues to impress with his stellar shooting and heady playmaking. Blake scored a team high 21 points on 8-12 from the field (5-7 from 3). He again hit the big shots when we needed it.

Greg Oden: In our personal opinions, Oden had the best game of his professional career. He set the tone physically early and often. He did not allow Garnett and company to bully him and push him around. He showed a variety of moves we have yet to see from him. But more importantly Greg played with a confidence and swagger that we have yet to see from the big man. If he can play like that every night he will be a very special player.

LaMarcus Aldridge: LA had a good game, and managed to post 20 points, 10 of which came in the 4th. He absolutely abused Kendrick Perkins, and had a few buckets on Garnett as well. It was good to see LA succeed even when his outside jumper wasn’t falling.

Travis Outlaw: Outlaw played a great game as well. He scored in a variety of ways, not just mid-range jumpshots. He took the ball to the hole aggressively and even had a dunk on Garnett late in the shot clock. He came up big for us offensively with BRoy out.

Rudy Fernandez: It was interesting to see Rudy struggle as much as he did. Stepping into a starting role I expected Rudy to carry more of a load then he did. However he did have a key And 1 to go along with a clutch steal late in the game. I still would have liked to see more from Rudy on a night where Roy was sidelined.

Everyone Else: The whole team stepped up tonight, and the only player to entered the game to not score was Batum. We played together offensively and defensively. It was a great game to watch.

Game Summary In One Sentence: Best win of the season, combined with Oden’s best game as a Blazer, came without Roy.

Celtics Preview

**Breaking News**

Brandon Roy is not going to play tonight due to a pulled hamstring

There are not many teams in the NBA that I would be ok with the Blazers losing to. But Boston happens to be one of those teams. Now by lose, I don’t mean the massacre that occurred in Boston, but a closely contested game in which the Blazers had a legitimate chance of winning. That is all I am looking for tonight vs. the Celts. I want to see the Blazers stand up and not get punked by Garnett and Co.

There are a few factors that are working in our favor (depending on how big of an optimist you are). First, the Celtics showed they are not bullet proof by dropping back to back games against the Lakers and the Warriors. However, they came back on Saturday to wipe the floor with Sacramento, but hey we have wiped the floor with them too! Also, this is the last game in a 4 game west coast road trip for the Celtics, so maybe we will catch them dreaming of heading back to Boston and their own houses and snatch a win tonight.

On the injury front Brandon Roy and Greg Oden have been checked out and should be ready to go tonight. Oden tweaked an ankle, but the X-rays came back negative. Roy had a slight pull in hamstring on Saturday, but still should be a go for tonight. Kendrick Perkins is listed as day to day with a shoulder injury, but all indications are that he will play tonight. With no team holding a sizeable advantage in the injury department, let’s see what I think the Blazers will have to do to get a win.

Keys to the Game

  1. Everyone Must Contribute Offensively.
    1. The Celtics are arguably the best defensive team in the NBA. They are apat at shutting down the other teams best player(s). So tonight we must have a balanced attack on offense, not just sit back and watch Brandon try to do it all on his own, because it won’t happen.
  2. We Must Rebound (Especially Defensively)
    1. The Celtics are too stingy on D, to allow them extra possessions on offense. We must get a body on guys rather then relying on our athleticism to secure rebounds.
  3. We Must Dictate the Pace and Tone of the Game.
    1. This is where KG shines. With his smack talk and aggressive play, he sets the tone for the Celtics to intimidate and “overpower” their opponents. We must not let this happen. Stand up and hit them first and get them on their heels rather then vice versa.
  4. Stop Rondo’s Dribble Penetration
    1. Rondo is adept at getting into the lane and creating for others. With shooters like Allen, Pierce, and Eddie House on the parameter we must keep Rondo out of the key.
  5. Play With Pride
    1. We must not let the Celtics humble us to the point that we cannot perform. I think once we figure out that they are just as beatable as anyone else the in league, we will be able to compete with them on a regular basis (just the Atlanta Hawks have managed to do).

Gambler’s Corner

The spread for this game is Boston by 5 and O/U of 184.5. I am going to go with Boston, because although it would be great to see us win or even keep it close, I just don’t see it happening with our inconsistent play lately. Not to mention the fact that we have been relying so heavily on Roy. If Roy is shutdown, our guys panic rather then thrive. Also I am going to take the under, because I think it is going to be a slow paced game.

Goose has no original thoughts, so he is also taking the Celtics and the Under.

So Far…

Kyle vs. Spread 2-2

Goose vs. Spread 2-2

Kyle vs. O/U 1-3

Goose vs. O/U 3-1

Yost won the score prediction again as he guessed 108-97 Blazers, with the actual being 102-94 Dallas. Yost now has 2 wins, and no one else has any….Step your game up!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Blazer Links

Hey guys, I am just getting back into a routine, and I am hoping that means getting back to my regular postings. For today, I am going to provide some links for you guys to check out. Hope you enjoy!

From John Hollinger's Daily Insider Gems

"One casualty of Cleveland's recent "slump" has been that the Cavs surrendered the No. 1 spot in offensive efficiency to Portland. Yes, Portland. The Blazers offer an interesting case study because they get very little post scoring and shoot a ton of jumpers -- an approach that traditionalists instinctively frown upon.

In the 1990s, this was indeed a bad idea. But in this decade, you can score big by spacing the floor with shooters and putting good decision-makers in the middle, and that's exactly what the Blazers have done under Nate McMillan.

The other interesting note is that the Blazers are playing the league's slowest pace, which has made some folks really, really slow to catch on to just how good Portland's offense is -- the Blazers are only 14th in points per game, a category that the league still insists on using to rank teams in the official stats."

And another from Hollinger

"The Oregonian's John Canzano, who ranks right behind Henry Abbott on my list of favorite bald writers from Portland, pointed out in Monday's column that Joel Przybilla is still outplaying Greg Oden, and we've got almost half a season under our belts, so maybe Portland ought to think about starting Przybilla and having Oden play with the subs.

The column reads like a knock on Oden, but the real story here is Przybilla, who has just been way, way, WAY better than anyone had any right to expect. The dude is shooting 75.5 percent and leading the league in rebound rate at 22.0. In addition he has been a force on defense with his shot-blocking, partly making up for the Blazers' softness on D at the other positions (they're 21st in defensive efficiency).

Oden's numbers are actually decent -- a 16.36 PER, a strong rebound rate, 53.5 percent shooting -- and in a vacuum he'd be worthy of a starting spot. Once he figures out that he can't allow 300-pound centers to post him up three inches from the rim because he can't count on being able to block the shot like he did in college and high school, he should be as much of a factor on D as Przybilla is, too.

But for now, Canzano is dead-on: Przybilla has been fantastic, and his reward should be a starting gig 'til further notice."

Mike Barrett's breakdown of Saturday's win over the Reports can be found Here.

Here is a great article on Channing Frye from Willamette Weekly.

And lastly, an interesting article on Rudy being in the dunk contest.

Feel free to post your opinons on these articles, so we can discuss what you guys think!