Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Trail Blazers vs. Heat: Game 20

The Heat come into Portland, like the Blazers, owners of a 2 game losing streak. Portland had only one 3 game losing streak all of last season which showed they had a short memory and were able to put previous games behind them and rise to the challenge of the next opponent. It would be a refreshing scene at the RG to see them come out and play with some fire and give us fans hope that the team is not on the verge of imploding. Like Chicago, Miami has a great back-court player in Dwyane Wade, but is very thin up front. Jermaine O'Neal is not the same defensive presence he once was and Udonis Haslem should have no business guarding LaMarcus down low on the blocks, strictly on height/wingspan alone.
For the Blazers to be victorious, Brandon Roy is going to have to step up and play like the 2nd Team All-NBA player we all know he can perform at. I'd love to see him get back into attack mode, quit settling for jumpers, and create for his teammates. One of his biggest assets is his court vision and great players make life easier for their teammates when they are on the floor. We all know he has to burden such a load on offense, but with Oden and Aldridge down low, Roy can save a little bit of energy on offense and take that saved energy and go all out on Wade. Wade is one of the top 3 players in this league and can single handily win the game alone by himself. If Portland wants to get their defensive mindset back, it all starts with their leader. If he shows more of a commitment to defense, the others will follow suit.
Although Wade can take over at any moment, it seems like the Heat like to sit back and watch him too much at times and it shows on their -.87 assist differential, while the Blazers are 6th in the league at +3.36. The Blazers need to quit dribbling the ball into the floor and make a quick decision with it, whether it be shoot, pass, or drive to the hoop. As Steve "Snapper" Jones always has said, "There needs to be ball movement, player movement." Why not run Rudy off of some curls and let him nail that 15 ft. jump shot? Dump it down low to the big men and run some back cuts to the hoop. There are a plethora of things Portland could be doing on offense and they get stuck dribbling out the clock waiting for something to happen. Start being proactive instead of reactive.
Do I think everything is kosher in Blazerland right now? Not by a long shot. There are still a lot of kinks that need to be worked out, but I get the feeling the group meeting between Nate and the Big 3 will iron some of the wrinkles out. Also, the boys finally got more than 1 day off between games which doesn't feel like has happened at all this season and even with the 2 days off have still played the most games in the NBA. I'm really unsure as to how this game will turn out, as I could see any outcome be plausible, but Portland needs to do 2 things and they will win. Win the rebounding battle and defend the paint! No more giving up 50+ points in the paint.
Game 20 Prediction: Trail Blazers 96 Heat 93
Post-Game Thoughts
This team has went from enigma to just straight bad the last few games. For the 3rd straight game, Portland has allowed an opponent to shoot well over 50% from the floor. The same Blazer team that, through the 1st month of the season, was stymieing the opposition to around 40% shooting. I see the same problems rearing their ugly head, such as pick and roll defense. For whatever reason our team switches everything on the pick and roll, which allows the other team to exploit the mismatch off of the switch. We never seem to go under the screen and force jump shots to beat us as we always try to fight through it which which puts our defense in a vulnerable position. We finally held a team to under 50 points in the paint, but Miami was just making the extra pass and ended up going 7-17 from 3, nearly all of them being wide open. Quite frankly, the rotations were slow and lazy. There were countless possessions where we needed a stop, the crowd desperately chanting DEFENSE, only for Miami to get a wide open jump shot with no one near them.
It wasn't all doom and gloom at the RG last night, as Greg Oden is giving Blazer fans around the world some hope that this team could figure it out. 13 points, 20 rebounds, including a franchise-tying 11 offensive boards, 4 blocks, and putting these stats up in only 30 minutes of action. Again, he picked up up two very early, questionable fouls, but played the rest of the way with only 2 fouls once he came back in. If he can start playing consistently in the 30-35 mpg range, more numbers like the ones he post tonight will start to be a regular occurrence. I'm not sure what the deal is, but he looks like the only one going 100% out there on defense and whatever the problem is in Blazerland, it needs to get rectified soon, because the last thing we need is an unhappy G.O.
As I sat in 329 last night with my buddy, we were so confused at the squad. On offense, it certainly wasn't pretty, but they were crashing the glass with a passion, en route to 21 offensive rebounds, just flying in out of nowhere to keep a loose ball alive. While on the defensive end, they flat out looked lackadaisical. It could be they were tired from playing the most games of any team in the League and some of the starters had to haul a little extra responsibility with LaMarcus out, but this is the 3rd time in a row this spotty defense has been showed. Whatever the issue is, all I ask as a fan is for 100% effort. I understand there are nights when the other team just has it dialed in or the iron may be unkind to our boys, but just bring it for the full 48.
Box Score

No comments:

Post a Comment