Posted on: December 10, 2008 12:13 am
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Spanish Connection carrying the Blazers

I'd like to start off by apologizing to my readers out there (if there are any, haha).  I have been in the middle of moving from one house to another, which has not allowed me to have much internet access.  I will continue to post at least once a week andd try and do it more often than that.

Well I'll begin the actual entry by saying that I cannot be more proud of my Portland Trail Blazers.  They have one of the best records in the entire NBA and have easily had the worst schedule to start this season.  I heard today on the radio that they are on pace for 55 wins.  I myself have to believe that this will not happen.  This is becacuse I am a realist when it comes to my teams.  I realize that this is a very young and inexperienced team, and in general that amount of wins does not come from a team like that.  However, I will say this:  The Blazers are not a typical young team.  Brandon Roy is special and plays beyond his years.  Rudy Fernandez has been a pro in Spain for many years, Sergio too.  Outlaw is still very young, but as been in the league for a few years.  The ages of this group of players is deceiving.  Id say this tam is more likely to end up around 50 wins, which is still a great turn around and more than any realistic fan would have predicted.

Now to the title of this entry:  the Spanish Connection.  Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez, these guys are great on the court together.  Over the last few weeks these guys have sparked many runs for the Blazers while on the court together.  Tonight, I'm sitting here watching them play the Orlando Magic, and the Magic appear to have the Blazers' number, every time Orlando needs a bucket, they get it.  However at the end of the third quarter the Spanish Connection came alive.  There was about 3 minutes straight where these guys were involved in just about every play offensively and defensively, throwing ally oops, shooting 3's and dishing outstanding dimes.  Excitinig basketball, it gt the crowd going, and brought the team back from a deficit and into the lead.  The momentum in the game has completely shifted.  It's currently 97-89 with about 5 minutes remaining in the game.  Things are looking good.

In a side note, Martell Webster will be out 4-6 more weeks after reinjuring his foot.  It's a different injury but it still hurts.  Hopefully he'll return sooner rather than later.

Category: NBA
Tags: Orlando, Roy, Rudy, Sergio
 
Posted on: November 25, 2008 3:57 am
 

Oden back in starting lineup...Webster soon?

Before tonight's game it was reported that Greg Oden would be reinserted into the starting lineup.  Was this the right time to make this move?  Pryzbilla has been playing great of late in the starting lineup, while Oden has been playing well off the bench.  I had my reservations as to how this move would pan out and if it was the right time to do it.  I mean we all know Oden is the more gifted player and that eventually we want Oden in the starting lineup, it just didn't seem like now was the right time.  So far....McMillian was right.  Pryzbilla continued to play well off the bench today recording another double double.  Oden played just 20 minutes and scored only 3 points.  That doesnt sound too good, but what he did do was grab 6 rebounds in those 20 minutes.  They both played about the same as they did in the reverse roles.  The Blazers as a team played sloppy but they pulled out the win, and that is what matters. 

Here is a couple of notes from the game.  Steve Blake finally cooled off from beyond the arc going 0-4 in the game, after making 10 3-pointers in his previous 2 games.  Fernandez went 1-3 from beyond the arc today going a combined 2-11 in his last two games, his shooting seems to be cooling down.  Aldridge pulled down 10 boards, this marked the 3rd time this season he has done so and first time in 8 games.  Oden grabbed 6 rebounds in less than 20 minutes, and continues to look like a double digit rebounder in 30+ minutes.  Brandon Roy can take over games when the team needs it.  Why he didn't even touch the ball on the Blazers' last offensive possession, boggles my mind.  I like Travis Outlaw as much as the next guy, but Brandon Roy is our guy, let's get him the ball when it counts.

Webster possibly returning soon
I heard on he radio today that Martell Webster will be rejoining the team pretty soon.  Where does Webster fit in with this team now?  What do the Blazers do?  Well, they already have a 10-man rotation going right now.  Here is my idea:  You've got to work Webster back slowly, do not throw him into things too early, with this roster we can afford to bring him along slowly.  Eventually i think he may need to be reinsterted into the starting lineup, as I feel like his outside shooting will need to be paired up with Greg Oden.  Webster improved his defense last year and if he can continue to improve this year, dropping Batum from the starting lineup shouldnt hurt too much.  Eventually I think the Blazers have to trade Travis Outlaw.  Batum has shown that he is going to be an Outlaw-like player, so Outlaw is the natural player to deal here.  I say, at the deadline if the Dallas Mavericks are still on the outside of the playoffs looking in, the Blazers offer up Raef LaFrentz and Travis Outlaw for Jason Kidd.  My absolute dream though would be for the Blazers to sit still with this team, find a way to get everybody the minutes to keep them happy (cut Frye's minutes and let Outlaw play the PF spot), but odds are that doesn't happen.  Either way, I trust Pritchard, we'll just have to sit back and watch a master at work.

Category: NBA
Posted on: November 19, 2008 7:20 pm
 

What kind of foul call was that???

This is a reaction piece to the game last night against the Golden State Warriors.  Golden State played arguably the worst final minute of a game in NBA history.  The refs did a good job of not allowing flopping to get in the way of good calls until the final play of the game.  The Warriors made bad play after bad play and tried to get away with flopping to get bailed out by the refs.  The Blazers capitialized on every mistake made and crawled back into the game.  Then with only about 5 seconds left in the game and the Warriors inbounding the ball at half court.  They attempted to lob the ball over Rudy Fernandez and his man's head into the back court.  Problem is, it was another bad pass.  Rudy Got around his man on route to the ball and a dunk on the other end, in the process his man grabbed him and pulled his jersey while throwing his hands in the air and flopping.  The whistle blows, surely the refs make the right call again right?  Give Rudy at least a 2 shot foul, or even a clear basket foul.  Instead they call a foul on Rudy.  Easily the worst call I've seen all season.  Rudy ends up getting a lame duck technical foul.  Rudy did nothing wrong but tell the ref that the other player grabbed his jersey.  GS went on to sink all 3 free throws (the technical foul and personal foul), and went on to win a game they didn't deserve to. 

On the bright side, Greg Oden had his first 20/10 game of his career.  Before last night's game, I wanted to put out a message to Blazer fans, not to get too excited over Oden yet, as he had only done well for two games.  However after this performance he is averaging 12 points, just over 9 rebounds and 3 blocks per game.  Being in Portland I know that people are not tempering their expectations, they are ecstatic about him.  I'd still like to preach patience with him, I know people are still expecting more 20/10 games than they should.  The guy is great, and he has clearly begun to slow himself down and allow the game to come to him.  The 3 game average is very realistic and something I think many fans will be happy with.  For now let's hope he continues his 20/10 streak.

As for tonight against the Bulls, I'll guess he ends up around 14 points and 9 rebounds with 4 blocks.  Offensively the Bulls are very weak inside, which I believe will lead to extra blocks for Oden.  However being a back-to-back game, in which Oden played 30 minutes in the first game, I don't think Oden will get more than 25 minutes. 

Usually I'll leave a prediction of stats on the game, which has turned out to be fairly close each night.  Today I'll leave you with just a final score.
93-109 Portland on top.

Category: NBA
Posted on: November 14, 2008 8:15 pm
 

Pregame for Hornets

This will be a quick entry since im waiting for the game to start in a few minutes.  We are currently 2-0 on our road trip and this would make an awesome start to the road trip if we could pull this one out.  I will make a few "keys" to the game and a few predictons here and will try and have a follow up after the game.

Keys to the game:
-They need to control David West.  Paul is going to get his, but we've got to try and contain West.  If we can keep him under 20 points i think it will keep us in it.
-Pick up our perimeter defense.  Try and keep Peja, Posey, Peterson from dominating the scoring.
-Cause turnovers and score in transition.  With Chandler in the middle it might not be as safe a bet to get to the rim.  Get out and run.

Predictions:

Hornets:
Paul: 24 pts, 11 ast, 3 rebs, 3 stl
West:  17 pts, 8 rebs
Chandler:  8 pts, 12 rebs, 4 blks

Blazers:
Roy: 22 pts, 4 rebs, 6 ast, 1 stl
Rudy:  18 pts, 2 rebs, 3 ast, 2stl
Aldridge: 17 pts, 9 rebs, 2 blk
Outlaw:  12 pts, 3 rebs, 3 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk
Oden:  8 pts, 4 rebs, 2 blk

Final score - 102-108 Blazers on top

Posted on: November 12, 2008 5:42 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2008 6:02 pm
 

4-3 to this point has to be a surprise.

So far on the season we are 4-3, and basically playing without 2 of our starters for the whole season.  Today we are going to be playing the second game of our 5 game road streak.  We won the first game against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.  After watching the first half of the game on TV, It appeared to me that we were likely to lose the game.  However, the team pulled it together down the stretch and came away with the win.  A review of this game is not what im writing this entry about, there are some major issues surrounding my Blazers right now that I want to cover.

First of all I'll cover the issues surrounding tonight's game.  Brandon Roy left the game in Orlando with less than minute after landing on what he described as his heal and feeling pain in his back.  He reportedly couldn't stand up straight after the game.  Doesn't sound like he'll play in the next game right?  Well, according to ESPN Roy is supposed to start the game today.  How effective will he be?  Who knows, but having Roy is better than not having him.  People say he doesn't play with much emotion because of his lack of facial expressions, but you can't look at this situation and tell me that this guy doesn't have passion for the game.  Two days ago he couldn't stand up striaight, he has done nothing but rest his back and he is going to play.  That is sick.

Greg Oden practiced on Tuesday and was reportedly very healthy looking, and reported no ill effects of the practice on his foot.  Since there is apparantly no swelling or soreness resulting from the practice the Blazers have said that Oden will play in tonight's game, he will come off the bench.  I just got done watching Around the Horn where they said Oden needs to come out and play harder.  I don't think they watched his debut at all.  From where I was sitting, Oden played too hard, and tried too hard to do everything.  Oden needs to play a bit slower to start off here.  I don't want him to play slow and too tentitively, I want him to try hard, but he needs to let the game come to him right now.  Play a few games on his foot and make sure he is ok.  Don't go after every block, that is the key.  Because even if he is going to play limited minutes, we don't want him to not play because of fouls.  My Prediction for Oden tonight: 17 minutes, 8 pts, 5 rebs, 2 blks, 3 turnovers

One rumor circulating around the NBA is Sergio Rodriguez demanding a trade.  This is a big misunderstanding.  Sergio said he wants to play more.  Who doesn't want to play more?  Sergio is going to see his minutes rise in my opinion as things go along in the season as I feel that Sergio's ability to distribute will win over some minutes from Steve Blake.  Either way, Sergio will not get traded.  Reason being that there is nothing the Blazers could get via trade that would make it worth it.  The only thing the blazers really need right now is a veteran distributing PG, and there is nobody like that available for a guy like Rodriguez.

Now I'm going to make a prediction for tonight's game against the Heat.
Heat:
Wade: 31 pts, 6 ast, 5 rebs, 2 stl
Beasley: 17 pts, 8 rebs, 1 blk
Marion (if he plays): 14 pts, 8 rebs, 4 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk

Blazers:
Roy: 16 pts, 7 ast, 3 rebs, 1 stl
Oden:  8 pts, 5 rebs, 2 blks
Aldridge: 21 pts, 6 rebs, 2 blk
Outlaw:  12 pts, 5 rebs, 2 ast, 1 stl
Rudy:  17 pts, 5 rebs, 2 ast

Final Score:  92-98 Portland on top.

Category: NBA
Posted on: November 7, 2008 2:56 am
Edited on: November 7, 2008 3:00 am
 

B. Roy sinks the dagger

Well I decided agaist making up all the games that I have not written about because I'm simply too excited about tonight's game against the Houston Rockets.  I'll start with this...we won the game, but it wasn't as pretty as I would've liked.  In yesterday's game against the Utah, the Blazers had the same problems they've had so far this year.  Roy struggles from the field and Aldridge's soft play inside leaves much to be desired.  We had a lead going into the 4th quarter and our lack of having a quality point guard came back to haunt us in the end.

In today's game we caught a glimpse of why people picked the Blazers as a potential playoff team this year out west.  Although Brandon Roy struggled from the field again today he showed up when it really mattered, the 4th quarter and OT.  Aldridge played a bit more physical today, especially on the glass pulling down 9 boards and blocking 3 shots.  Travis Outlaw and Rudy Fernandez are easily the most exciting and impressive tandem off the bench across the league.  These guys both end up playing near starter minutes and both are capable of filling up the box score and do so fairly consistantly.  Outlaw finishes with 14 points, 13 boards a steal and a pair of blocks.  Rudy spread the floor sinking 3 three pointers on his way to 15 points.  For those of you that missed it, ill give you a recap of the last 10 seconds of the game.   Roy brought the ball up the court in a hurry after grabbing a rebound.  He runs the to the right elbow of the arc, tries to make a move to get the basket baseline and gets stopped, turns around and throws up a fade away jumper and nails it.  They are now up 2.  Rockets call a time out with 1.9 seconds left, after the ball is advanced to midcourt they inbound the ball to Yao who turns and fires his own fade away jumper getting fouled by Roy trying to strip him, the ball goes in and Yao is headed to the line for one.  He sinks that shot nd with 0.8 seconds left the Blazers call a time out to advance the ball, down by 1.  Brandon Roy catches the ball and shoots a 30-foot jump shot.......SWISH!!!!!!!!!  Blazers win and B.Roy sinks it when it counts.

Enough recap.  There is something on my mind that I want to get out there.  The Blazers have a major problem: They need a good veteran point guard, that can penetrate and get to the basket.  Here is what we have, Steve Blake, Sergio Rodriguez and Brandon Roy.  Blake is a very fine role playing PG.  He spreads the floor with his range, plays quality defense and takes care of the ball.  Sergio runs an exciting up tempo brand of basketbal and finds a way to thread the needle at times in a slow down offense.  Roy takes over the point guard role in the 4th quarter (even if Blake is on the court).  He has shown he is a great ball handler in this situation, but as he showed today he is not the answer for us.  He has the ability to get to the rim, however he has a score first mentality.  This caused problems for the Blazers down the stretch.  At times he is out of control, doesn't seem to have full control of his body at times while he is trying to do his thing and make plays.  Obviously down the stretch you want the ball in the hands of your best player, however we need a guy who can get to the rack and dish the ball. What happens late in the game is that the entire team on the court sits back and watches Brandon do his thing, they might set a pick, but offensively they pretty much stand there and get out of his way.  I would rather see the ball in the hands of a distributor at times and work Roy off some screens and get him some easier shots, while also getting guys like Aldridge and Outlaw in the game.  How about a penetratin and kick out to Rudy for a 3?  The Blazers truely are limited right now in clutch situations.  They have other options, but no means to get them involved.  The team has plenty of talent, and expiring contracts.  I know they want to keep the cap space cleared for the 2010 free agent super class, but i think at the deadline they have got to consider going out and trying to use Reaf LaFrentz's contract t bring in this type of PG.

All in all this was an amazing game and one that shows the Blazers are for real.  They have probably the hardest schedule in the NBA so far this seasn and have been able to pull a few upsets over two NBA championship contenders in the Spurs and Rockets.  However they also lost to other contenders in the Suns and Jazz.  This is still going to be an up and down season, but they are showing that they are a team that should not be taken lightly.

Category: NBA
Posted on: November 5, 2008 5:16 am
 

Portland Trail Blazers Week 1

This will be the first of many blog entries concerning my home town Portland Trail Blazers.  In this entry I wil discuss the beginning of this current NBA season, along with some predictions for the future.  I am a very realistic person, I am optomistic about my Blazers, but I tell it like it is.

Game 1: @ Los Angeles Lakes:
What did you all expect?  I know many people around these parts expected the Blazers to come out and suprise the world with an opening day win over the Western Conference Champs.  Not me.  I expected them to compete, show that we deserved some of the preseason hype, and compete with the West's best team from a year ago.  My thoughts were that since the preseason was such an injury riddled one for the Blazers, that they would not be ready to click on all cylinders and knock off such a highly reguarded team.  Oden, Aldridge, Roy, Blake and Webster all missed time in the preseason, that is our entire starting lineup.  As we knew before this game Webster was not going to play, but rookie Nicolas Batum had a terrific preseason showing and looked as though the pairing of him and Travis Outlaw would at least come close to what Webster and Outlaw would have provided.  We also caught a glimpse of Batum's defensive abilities and got excited. 

What did we get?  A poor showing from our "big three".  Roy and Aldridge struggled from the field all game, and Oden got hurt early and didnt play much.  Aldridge confirmed some of the concerns skeptical fans had, he showed that he was a "soft" big man, settling for jump shots and basically avoiding contact on the offensive side of the ball.  Brandon appeared not to care about the situation, however if you have watched him in the past you know that his laid back facial expression is the same no matter what happens in the game.  Simply put, he was going against the best SG in the game offensively and arguably defensively and didn't have a good game.  You might look at Oden's numbers and say that the reason they looked so poor was because of his injury, however watching the game I noticed he looked well over matched.  He didn't look like he was in game shape and looked as if he was trying to do everything himself.  There were a few bright spots that dd come out of this game though, starting with Rudy Fernandez.  His game is clearly ready for the NBA proving that the Olypic games were not a fluke.  This guy was well on his way to showing that he is deserving of 30 minutes a game.  In what appeared to be a slightly before game time decision Coach Nate McMillan decided to start Travis Outlaw over Batum.  It was a suprising move that ended up working out as Outlaw led the blazers in scoring with 18 and seemed to be one of just two bright spots on offense.  Batum ended up getting 3+ minutes of mop up time in going from what appeared to be a starter to a player burried on the bench.  We ended up losing the game by a wide margin but learned a few things about ourselves, we are not the best team in the world and Oden wasn't going to make that happen just yet.


Game 2: vs San Antonio Spurs
Right about now we are looking at the NBA schedule makers and cursing them for putting us up against the best big men across the league in so many consecutive games.  Well, hey, can you blame them?  Didn't we all want to see what Greg Oden could do up against Bynum, Duncan, Shaq, etc?  Problem is, Oden went down in game one, leaving us with a big hole and a bad schedule.  This game had a great outcome as the Blazers outlasted the Spurs with a one point victory.  This game not only provided the first win of the season, it gave us hope.  We defeated a team who many professionals believe to have a dynasty over the last decade in the NBA.  We also got to see the All-Star Brandon Roy.  The guy who fills the box score, and shows he has the ability to be mentioned among the league's best players.  In this game he scored 26, grabbed 5 rebounds, dished out 7 assists and snatched 3 steals.  That is clearly what we wanted to see.  LaMarcus Aldridge poured in 23, in an outing that saw him take the ball to the hole with authority more frequently.  The truly exciting thing we got out of this game was the arrival of Batum.  He was all over the court causing havoc.  Although he only finished with 1 rebound and 1assist, he also scored 12 points including knocking down one 3 pointer, and totalled one steal and two blocks.  Pryzbilla was in foul trouble most of the game and Channing Frye is softer than a marshmellow.  Batum's legnth allowed McMillan to use him in a smaller lineup as a power forward, and he flourished.  Showing NBA fans that #1 Kevin Pritchard pulled off another great trade accumulating Batum, and #2 McMillan was not crazy for considering Batum for the starting spot even at age 19.  All in all the youth of the Blazers still reared it's ugly head down the stretch as the Spurs had a great look at a jump shot from Michael Finley to win the game, lucky for us the ball bounced off the rim and we got the victory.  This was a jump shot that Finley likely makes at least 7 or 10 times, so we come away from his one with our heads held high as we pull off the win, but we are not cocky cause this one could have bounced the other direction.

Comments about the Suns game will be posted later today.

Category: NBA
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com