Sunday, November 8, 2009

Trailblazers vs. Timberwolves: Game 7

After the first 5 games yielded an up and down ride, the Blazers come into this game seemingly with some momentum after handling the Spurs on Friday. It's good any time you can get a win against one of the upper echelon teams in the West, but you get the feeling that the win on Friday night in particular might have been very timely. Now Portland has the chance to continue building momentum heading into a Eastern road trip with the predictably struggling Timberwolves in town. Many fans are happy to hear that Andre Miller has apparently been given the reigns to the team and are hoping this means the Blazers will be off and running. With a fair amount of success against the Spurs, the Blazers ran a 3 guard lineup much of the game, using Roy more as a 3. As for tonight, look for the Blazers to struggle a bit early and then get it together for a comfortable win. Containing Jefferson is key, but also slowing down the bevy of point guards on the Minnesota roster. Flynn looks like a nice player so far, but without Kevin Love, Minnesota lacks front court depth. Look for Greg Oden to continue to build on a solid performance against San Antonio as well as his strong rebounding and defense throughout the season and be a factor. If Greg can stay out of foul trouble against Jefferson, he'll be key to shutting him down and making the young backcourt beat us. The contributions of each player on the roster has been sporadic throughout the season, but a more solid all around effort on Friday may be another sign that maybe the Blazers can put a shaky first few games behind them and begin to build on what was done last year. Game 6 Prediction: Blazers 108, T-Wolves 92
Post-Game Thoughts
First off, a ton of credit needs to be handed out to the entire team tonight for a total team effort in demolishing an severely inferior opponent. A mark of a truly legitimate team is putting bad teams away early and keeping the foot on the gas pedal. Every player who stepped foot on the court last night scored. Roy scores only 2 points, yet the game was never in jeopardy. Unlike earlier in the season, when the shot wasn't falling, Brandon did other things to help benefit his team, such as dropping 6 dimes and grabbing 7 boards.
Once again, the 3 guard lineup really got the offense off to another good start. The team just looks more comfortable out there, like they actually know what they want to do and are executing that plan. It was so refreshing to see us dump it inside at will on the Wolves, send cutters to the paint, and watch Oden and Aldridge hit the their open teammates for easy buckets. Was it me or did GO look like a mini-Sabonis out there tonight? Not only was there ball-player movement, but the team made a concerted effort to run and it showed with 18 fast break points. How beautiful was that Miller 3/4 quarter pass to Aldridge on a dime for the dunk?
I forgot to mention this after the San Antonio game, but I am in love with the 2nd unit of Bayless, Rudy, Travis, Martell, and Joel. Joel brings the rebounding and toughness to the unit, Rudy can handle the ball and make plays in the open court, and the other 3 can score at will. Travis was an absolute monster. In my opinion, he is now the most reliable shooter we have from distance and he seems to be making the right plays more often than not. If only Martell would just shoot it with the same confidence and lack of hesitation that Travis does, we would be really lethal from the perimeter. Outside of Oden's passes out of the post, the most enjoyable aspect of the game last night was to see Jerryd finally get his jumper to hit. It looked text book, had the proper arc and elevation, but more importantly, it was shot with confidence. If Bayless continues to play at this level, he will force Coach Nate to carve out a role for him and find him consistent minutes on a nightly basis.
Box Score

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