Not a bad first game for the Blazers. Phoenix kept it close the entire time, but the late 4th quarter flurry put them away for good. Here are a few things that I really liked about the game.
-Roy looked quick, in rhythm, and more springy then I can remember him at any point last year. His shooting was very good, and it didn’t even require him to take the ball to the hoop (even though I would have liked to see him do that with the Suns being so soft in the middle).
-Wesley Matthews is absolutely going to play 30+ minutes a game for the Blazers. For Blazer loyalists, he is like James Jones times 5. They both do so many little things that you don’t realize until you watch them play. Tipping OReb’s, helping on the pick and roll and recovering. Moving out to the 3 point line at the right time to space the floor. He is an absolute beast, and if he keeps playing like this, is absolutely worth the contract he got.
-Batum was active as usual, but where it really stood out to me, was he was mixing it up down low a lot more. In the past his activeness was mostly on the perimeter and in the passing lanes, but last night he was in there scrapping for rebounds, loose balls, and what seemed like everything in between. It could just be the fact that we were playing Phoenix who doesn’t block out particularly well, and is small, but regardless it is still a good sign to me. If Batum can keep that up, between him and Wesley that is going to gain us an extra 5+ possessions a game. Something a team who slows down the pace so much highly covets.
-Even though it was a dog fight for most of the game, I was impressed with how the Blazers didn’t do their usual, go down my 12, make a run, go ahead by 4, then go down by 8 again. They had a nice pace through the entire game, instead of the big swings. Hopefully that’s not just because it was Phoenix.
-I really hope Roy doesn’t have to play 40 minutes a game for us.
-I liked our “backup” PG role of Rudy, Roy and Wes Matthews out there at the same time a lot more then I thought I would. Rudy did a good job of bringing the ball up and initiating the offense. A reason I like it even more is, that is that is exactly the type of role he has been pining for. Even though after seeing how he has played so far this year, maybe we want Rudy to be sad.
-Can’t say enough about Armon Johnson. I can tell in 1 game that he is better then Bayless will ever be as a PG. He had a few mistakes, but good mistakes if that makes sense. He made mistakes trying to go to the rim. Not stepping on the sideline after he catches the ball type of mistakes. What I really was impressed with was how quickly he moved, while appearing to be in complete control the entire time. Never seemed off balance (like Bayless), never seemed to not know what his out was if it didn’t work. Pretty impressive for a 2nd round rookie huh?
-Take it easy on Aldridge, he got doubled pretty much as soon as he caught the ball all night. He did the right thing and passed out. Took him a while, but eventually he began getting involved without the ball on the boards. Loved that. I feel like I’ve already seen him put his shoulder into guys more in that game then almost all of last year. Hopefully he keeps it up against bigger teams.
-Marcus Camby is really good. He changes the game way more then the casual basketball fan can see/comprehend. Gotta hand it to KP, that was an absolute fleecing last year getting him for Outlaw and Blake. That’s a trade that would have gotten vetoed in about 15 mins in my fantasy league.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised with game 1. After all the media talking about our sluggish pre season, I was beginning to get worried. And without the games on TV, I couldn’t do my own eye check. Well after game 1 most of my anxieties were relived. Though it’s early, I liked the energy, the body language, and demeanor of this team. And we don’t even have Oden and Pryz yet. Plus they covered the spread. Sup $10.
Oh and lastly, how fun was it to watch Blazer basketball again? Forgot how much I loved it.