Friday, February 6, 2009

Thunder Preview

Sorry for the late preview, I have been busy today. Here is a quick rundown.

The Thunder have a deceiving bad record of 11-38. However they are 5-5 in their last 10 games. They have been fueled by the excellent play of Durant, who has hit 30+ points in 5 of their last 6 games. Pretty good. Let's hope Batum can hold him down tonight.

Keys to the Game

1. Keep Russell Westbrook out of the Paint
I think this is the reason Bayless will play alot again tonight. Westbrook is extremely fast and strong, so let's hope Bayless, who was projected to go in front of Westbrook before draft night, can keep up.
2. Force Durant to Take Tough Shots
We cannot give this guy open looks and send him the free throw line. He will murder us there. We need to keep our heads on a swival on D, and look to help whoever is guarding Durant.
3. Dominate Down Low
Aldridge and Oden need to have big games for us tonight. While the Thunder might have a strong backcourt, their front line is thin and weak. There is no reason Oden should not have 18 and 12 tonight.
Gambler's Corner

Blazers -6
Over/Under 199

I am going with the Blazers and the Over. I think it will be a fast paced game, and I think both teams with put the ball in the hoop, but I think Portland is just way better at closing games, and that is difference in this one.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dallas Recap & Amare?

I have a confession to make. I didn’t watch the Blazer game last night. BUT, I have a good excuse, I was hooping myself. Unfortunately as I was on my way to fouling out roughly around the end of the 3rd quarter (and yes you get 6 fouls in city league), the Blazers were losing the Dallas. If you want some breakdowns of the game check out this link, which leads to more links!

Trade Talk

So you can pretty much assume that I will come through everyday with some sort of trade rumor. If you hate trade rumors I am sorry, but I love them. You know what? I am not sorry! I will not apologize for dreaming of ways to improve an already stellar team. Today’s is quite a dosey and comes to us from a Dallas newspaper. He seems to believe that the Blazer’s are going to trade Raef and Aldridge for Amare Stoudamire. Below is an excerpt, if you want to check out the whole thing, click here.

This comes from having an ear to the ground. Some reading of tea leaves. Some 2+2 = stuff. I think there's a biggie brewing in NBA trade circles. A Western Conference-race-changing biggie.


While I don't claim to have moles inside the Suns HQ, little snippets here and there from people I listen to (should we call them "our sources" in order to make this a true Vesceyesque rumor-generator?) have me thinking that a big trade is brewing. ... or certainly, serious talks that could lead to this big trade. A blockbuster. One that involves two playoff teams and rivals in the Western Conference. One that could create a deadline domino effect in the West, just like last year. Don't be surprised if Amare gets traded by the deadline to Portland for LaMarcus Aldridge (with Raef Lafrentz included as trade filler for rules purposes).


Anything can happen - but we have reason to think that when the dust settles the Suns' partner will be Portland, and the acquisition will be Aldridge.

While it is tempting to think of what that would do to Portland’s title hopes this season, I would have to say that I would not do the deal. While Amare is an amazing basketball talent, he has too many negatives for me. For one, he is very uninterested in playing defense, and that goes against everything Nate tries to teach (granted we suck at defense right now, but at least our guys are trying). Second, I don’t know how much I like Amare’s “me first” attitude. If he has trouble deferring to Shaq, one of the greatest center’s of all time, then how is he going to react to deferring to Oden and Roy? Is his personality too overwhelming for even Brandon Roy to conquer? I am afraid it is.

The other side of the coin is that I would see Aldridge developing similar problems in the future. He has already let it be known that he is kind of disturbed by the fact that he doesn’t get as much attention as Roy and Oden. You could say that he even gets less media coverage then Bayless. He seems to be fine with it right now, but what about in 2 years? In 5? When his contract is up, is he going to be satisfied being “one of the big three”? or will he want to go somewhere else and be “the man” just like Amare is doing right now? Those are questions that nobody knows the answers to, but interesting to think about.

Weighing both sides, I would have to lean towards not making the trade. We have a pretty darn good thing going here right now, and we are getting significantly better each year. It sometimes seems hard to be patient in the pros, but I think this is one of those times it will pay off.

What do you guys think? Would you do it? Would you rather have this deal or the Bosh deal? I would like the Bosh deal more then this, but who knows. I want to hear what you guys think!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mavericks Preview & More Trade Thoughts!

Talkin' Trades (A Ripoff of Talkin' Ball)

We are now officially two weeks away from the trade deadline, so the rumors are coming hot and heavy. As most of you know the Blazers have a ton of assets that make them an appealing trade partner. Well the latest to pop up is proposed by ESPN’s Chad Ford as a way to help the Magic deal with Jameer Nelson’s recent injury. This is what Chad has to say.

Trail Blazers trade Steve Blake, Channing Frye and Sergio Rodriguez for Hedo Turkoglu and Anthony Johnson

While neither Blake nor Rodriguez is a star, they are solid players who would give Orlando an instant point guard rotation. (Blake is currently out with his own shoulder injury, but he's expected to return within a week.) Rodriguez has more upside than Blake but is younger and more erratic as well. Both players could come off the books for the Magic next year -- meaning no long-term hit on their cap

Just as important would be the acquisition of Frye, whose size and rebounding ability would give the Magic some much-needed help on their front line.

The cost would be high for the Magic. Turkoglu has been solid and sometimes spectacular for the Magic the past two seasons. But they have enough talented wing players, particularly Mickael Pietrus and Courtney Lee, to fill the shoes of Turkoglu, who is a risk to opt out of his contract and leave Orlando this summer anyway.

The Blazers have been looking for a small forward, and Turkoglu would be a good, low-risk option. Portland might have to pay him to keep him, but a trade now would give the team a few months to see how he fits as he contributes to the Blazers' drive to make some noise in the playoffs this spring.

What do you think about this trade? Personally, I am against it. Turkoglu doesn’t really solve our SF problem (perimeter defense), and leaves us with Anthony Johnson and Jerryd Bayless at PG. I am a Bayless fan, but you can’t tell me that he is ready to run this team full time. Also, of the few Magic games I have watched this year, Turkoglu might be the most important player not named Howard on that team. He handles the ball almost, if not more, then the PG’s. I just don’t see this deal making much sense for either side. What do you guys think?

Blazer Rookie Update

In Blazer Rookie news, ESPN’s weekly column evaluating rookies came out today and talked about 3 of the 4 Blazer rookies. He has Oden, Fernandez, Batum, and Bayless ranked 6, 8, 18, 23 respectively. Below I put some excerpts, but if you want to read the whole thing, check it out here.

Greg Oden, Trail Blazers
Emeka Okafor learned firsthand just how big, strong and agile Oden is. Oden scorched Charlotte for 14 and 14 (8 offensive boards) and added 2 steals and 3 blocks. His sheer size and length -- and his willingness to compete hard -- are making a huge difference against other teams' bigs.

Rudy Fernandez, Trail Blazers
Fernandez is not just a terrific shooter, shot-maker and athlete. He also plays a very thoughtful and unselfish game. This was on display the other night, as Portland led Charlotte by 16 late in the game. Greg Oden deflected a guard-to-wing pass up the floor, which was picked up by a hard-charging Fernandez, who had only one defender to deal with. It looked as if an easy layup or foul was coming.

Nicolas Batum, Trail Blazers
Batum is a hard guy to evaluate because of the role he plays in Portland. More than half of his attempted shots are 3s, similar to Rudy Fernandez. However, he currently does not have the overall shot-making skills of his friend from Spain. Batum is a decent shooter from 3 (35 percent), getting most of his shots off good spacing and unselfish teammates who find him after ball penetration.
Game Preview

Our last meeting with Dallas was on Christmas day, and we did not fair so well even with yours truly in the stand to add some extra support. I am hoping since I am not going tonight that will be the difference in the game. But seriously, the Mavs have been playing some pretty good hoops lately, and it will be a tough test for the Blazers to take them out at home.

Last game we were killed on the pick and roll by Jose Juan Bera and Brandon Bass. Hopefully we learned from that and come out with some attitude and a chip on our shoulders to prove that we won’t lose to the Mavs because of those two again. However Dirk still dropped 30 on us and Jason Terry had 19 off the bench. If we can contain Terry and Josh Howard, and make Kidd and Brandon Bass score, then we will be in good shape. The Blazers were also out-rebounded by Dallas (which is rare for this Blazers team), so if we can win that battle and play decent D against the pick and roll I think we will be ok. Steve Blake is out again for tonight’s game (he didn’t even make the trip).

Keys to the Game

1. Defend the Pick & Roll
I touched on it earlier, but we NEED to stop this, hopefully the addition of Bayless to our rotation will help this.
2. Hit the Boards
We need to hit the boards hard and make sure we are not outrebounded again. There is no reason a frontline of Dirk and Dampier should outrebound LA and Oden.
3. Control the Tempo
Although Dallas doesn’t play at a blazing fast pace, we still need to dictate the tempo. That means making shots, and rebounding well.
4. Score More Points Then Them
If we score more points then Dallas tonight I think we will get a W.

Gambler’s Corner

Blazers +3.5
Over/Under 195.5

I am taking the Blazers and the Over. I think that the Blazers will come out fired up and steal a win in Dallas. They have some great momentum going right now (5 game win streak), and if we get a win tonight have a great chance of reaching a double digit win streak with our next 4 games versus Oklahoma City twice and the Knicks and Warriors both at home. They know this and would like to take advantage with a win tonight.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Winners, Trades, & Recaps

Before I get to the game recap, I want to announce that Matt is the winner of the Gambler’s Corner challenge for the month of January! Keep your eyes open for Matt’s post coming up in the next week or so! Congratulations Matt!

Also in a Chad Ford chat today (ESPN insider who specializes in trade rumors and Draft stuff), he said that he belives the chances of Bosh being moved are fairly high, and up around 30%-40% now. That got me thinking, and how do you feel about this trade?

Would you do it? Would you do it if we had to give up another draft pick or Sergio? I think I would.

Game Recap

Possibly one of the best comebacks in Blazers history took place last night in New Orleans. The Blazers were down by as much as 20 in the 3rd quarter, but stormed back to pull off a huge win on the road. The charge was led by our bench players, Bayless, Rudy, and Outlaw (Our bench outscored our starters 52-45). Much of the talk about our comeback is centered around the injury to Chris Paul midway through the 3rd quarter. That is when the game changed, but hey no one feels sorry for you in the NBA if you have injuries so we’ll take it.

Individual Performances

Brandon Roy:

Roy struggled all night with his shot and getting to the rim. They played suffocating D on him, and were successful in taking him out of the game (6 points). However, the beauty of this team is other players stepped up to shoulder that offensive void left by Roy.

LaMarcus Aldridge:

LA might be the most underrated Blazer. For the last month he has absolutely been killing. He came through for us again tonight with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Although he was only 9-21, he kept us in the game early, as he was the only one to could score.

Greg Oden:

Oden only played 18 minutes this game, and found himself in foul trouble. He had a hard time dealing with the smaller and quicker Hornets front line. He still managed to put up 6 points and 6 boards. Oden continues to look better each game on the offensive side of the floor. He looks more in control then I have ever seen him, and it’s scary to think that he is only 50% of what he can be physically and skill wise.

Sergio Rodriguez:

Sergio did a serviceable job again tonight, but this was truly Bayless’s night. Sergio played 19 minutes and had 6 points (two very nice takes to the rim) and 2 turnovers.

Nicolas Batum:

Batum played only 15 minutes and was somewhat of a non-factor. He ended with 5 points and 4 boards.

Jerryd Bayless:

Bayless was the emotional spark off the bench that the Blazers needed. He ended with 19 points (7-9 from the field), 6 assists, 2 steals in only 24 minutes. He played with an enormous amount of energy, and had multiple dunks that got the Blazers back into the game. When Bayless plays like this, one can only ask if he should be given all of the backup minutes at PG. He clearly looks like he has a future as a PG with this team.

Travis Outlaw:

Travis came up huge for tonight in the 4th quarter by hitting several key jumpshots. Travis was hot from the beginning, but found himself on the bench due to foul trouble. It is always nice to have another clutch shooter to fall back on when Roy isn’t hitting. Travis ended with 16 points (7-11 shooting) and 6 boards. Great effort.

Joel Przybilla:

If Bayless is the offensive MVP of this game, then Przy is the defensive MVP. Przy practically shut down David West in the last 8 minutes of the game, allowing the Blazers to take the lead and never look back. I think you will find many people who agree that Joel is the best backup center in the league and how lucky the Blazers are to enjoy such a luxury.

Rudy Fernandez:

Rudy also was huge in the comeback and found his range at the right time. Rudy ended with 15 points on 4-8 shooting (3-6 from deep), and was huge in grabbing 8 rebounds. It seems Rudy hasn’t had a great game in a while, and it was great to see him step up in this one.

Summary: AMAZING win, that moved us into 4th place in the western conference and only 1 game back of Denver for the division lead. There are lots of games to play still, but it’s hard not to get excited in the Rose City right now.