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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Blazers fall apart

They lose Game 2 in Dallas, convincingly, and there's no sign that they'll be able to win a game there. The Blazer players don't seem fully prepared for the post-season level of competition. Rudy Fernandez is the new Cliff Robinson -- a nonfactor -- and Brandon Roy wasn't given much of a chance to play his way out of his funk. The defense against the outside shot continued to be terrible. The referees were not to blame.

Given Coach Nate's inability to come up with playoff-caliber strategies, it surely looks like another first-round exit for the Portland team, with no prospect of any better outcome any year soon. They may not get swept in this series, but they aren't going to prevail.

Comments (17)

Coach Nate ain't taking the shots; he is putting the players on the floor.

Patty Mills minutes at the end of the 3rd quarter made me cringe. Bad decisions. 2 times he drove to the post and the Mavs ended up with the balls. The other time he turned it over.

Also, with Brandon Roy playing on robot knees, we have no closer. No go to man to be depended on in clutch situations.

Looking at the box score. Dallas' bench showed up and put up 39 points. Portland's bench scored 11 with Batum taking credit for 10 of them.

Farewell Rudy. Don't let the door hit you on the way out and please give the bottle of vinegar to former Trailblazer coach Nate McMillan on your plane flight back to Spain.

I'm working on a theory for judging NBA talent. After you factor in the normal stuff - for example, the game a good 6 ft. 4" to 6 ft. 8" regulation NBA player has - you have a separate category called "Degree of Unusualness."

On the Blazers, the person who scores highest in this category is Nicolas Batum, but Andre Miller has a lot of it too. It's the unlikelihood of being great in a way that's different from the norm. With Nic, it's his quickness combined with his height and length. With Andre, it's being a great guard without really jumping.

This leads back to Dirk Nowitzki. It's not that he's tall and yet can shoot from outside. I've seen that before. In fact, one of Bill Laimbeer's unusal qualities was being able to shoot from outside, while also being a tough guy in the paint.

It's not that Dirk can draw fouls. Lots of big men can draw fouls. What sticks out with Dirk is that he's very tall and yet automatic at the freethrow line. That's what jumps off the chart. That's what gives him the big Degree of Unusualness. It's sort of profound how he's designed to get fouled - his awkwardness heading to the rack looks like he's already being fouled, even before he really is. It's also profound how his outside shot is so good that you can't stay off him, and he has you right there to go around and get hit time after time.

Still, all that I've seen before. But I don't remember seeing someone so tall and yet so automatic at the line. It's unusual, and being unusual can be its own form of greatness.

Dirk has had 3 seasons over 90% at the line and last season he hit .915! Here's a blurb from sometime ago:

"Color commentator Hubie Brown noted that the best free-throw shooting 7-footer in the history of the NBA was Dirk Nowitzki. Not far behind the German superstar was Yao Ming, who hit his first 17 free throws this season before settling down to ~86% this season.

Here’s the breakdown:

Highest Free Throw % for 7-footers in NBA History:

1. Dirk Nowitzki 87%
2. Yao Ming 82.6%
3. Brad Miller 79.9%
4. Steve Stipanovich 79.6%
5. Joe Kleine 79.4%"

Meanwhile Kevin Durant scores 41 in game one for the Thunder and Denver has no choice but to try and double team him in game two.....Just sayin

And Nowitzki leads the NBA in drawing non-contact shooting fouls.

They looked great in the first half. My biggest disappointment was how they seemed to just be standing around at the end of the game compared to how they played earlier. It was like they had no will to fight for it any longer and just started jacking up bad shots. I'm not really very excited to watch the rest of this one.

Gibby, picking Oden over Durant was an epic failure. But it's done, over, no going back. We're not going to reverse the Durant non-pick, and we're not going to reverse the Jordan non-pick. So let's move on.

The Blazers are a good regular season team that isn't able to step up in the post-season. I don't know if that's coaching or player will or bad conditioning or what, but it's obvious. And frustrating. And absent a miracle, we get to start thinking about this all over again next season.

Bill McD,

Joe Kleine was reliable, productive, and popular with Celtics aficionados during the later years of the Bird era, but he is now largely forgotten:

And, speaking of the Cs, in the contest cablecast prior to the local squad's debacle, impatient 'Blazers fans waited while the Boston team closed decisively to purloin another one from the Knicks, who were playing in the unfriendly Garden without former Celtic Chauncey B and wounded Amare Stoudemire:

Melo was nearly unstoppable but he could not do it alone.

Yet two victories do not a series win:
"Bird returned in 1989–90 to play in 75 games and he led the Celtics to a 52–30 record. In the playoffs, after winning the first two games of a Best of 5 series against the New York Knicks, the Celtics collapsed, losing 3 straight, including the decisive 5th game at the Boston Garden."

The Knicks are done, just like the Blazers.

Ahh, the Durant issue. First though, here's the Degree of Unusualness Theory as applied to another player: Kareem. Did he have great all-around basketball skills? Yes. That's the baseline stuff they all have to have even to contemplate greatness. But what made him a game changer was his Degree of Unusualness and that was the Sky Hook. You'll see Dwight Howard or Garnett do a little bunny hook sometimes, but Kareem had his own unblockable shot. A jump-hook shot from range. Nobody else does it to this day. He was a one-man half court offense. Very unusual and it produced great results.

To be fair to Oden, he did have unusual mobility and quickness for a big man. When healthy he is a force field. He doesn't clog the paint. He can dart from one side to the other in time to block a quick guard doing a lay-up. He's like Brandon now - his injuries took away his Degree of Unusualness completely. I hope he gets it back. You could say though, that he didn't have the baseline regulation NBA greatness to go with it - which is why we were still teaching him to shoot short jumpshots, etc, before he got hurt.

So what's my point? Okay, Wes Matthews is a very good player but there's nothing unusual about him. He's tenacious and streaky but you can find that. I actually thought this next idea before seeing it elsewhere. I know Dwight Jaynes covered it, as did others: Why not start Nic Batum as the 2 guard?

Do you notice when Batum has a good stretch, the stats just flow to him: Blocks, steals, and yes, jump shots. But he also applies his Degree of Unusualness to the other team and disrupts them. Why? Because you face a player like Wes Matthews quite often in the NBA. He's a great character guy and I love him on the Blazers, but he's a regulation NBA player.
In his own way, he is great, but it's not his own way. It's a very normal way to be great, which is why he wasn't drafted. There are just a lot of people great in the same way.

You must find players who are great but have a Degree of Unusualness. Then once you have them, you must get them on the floor. It's the best way to win in the NBA. Start Batum at shooting guard.

So where does Bill Walton show up in this chart?

Inquiring minds want to know!

As I've written before, the playoffs are much different than the regular season. A seven game series can and does exploit a team's weaknesses.

My biggest issue is Nate's overuse of Rudy Fernandez and (gasp) Patty Mills. Anybody who substitutes Mills over Roy should look for a job in the WNBA.

What has killed the Blazers, and not just this year, is a lack of consistent outside shooters. Look at the teams that have won over the past several years - Robert Horry for the Lakers and Rockets, Stojakovic for the Mavs, Fisher for Utah and the Lakers. We're also thin on the bench. Really, there are only Batum (or Matthews if Batum starts, which might not be a bad idea), Roy and Fernandez. Roy doesn't look right, don't know if it's physical or mental, but he looks like he did early in the season when his knees must have been killing him. And it's not so much what the bench gets you, it's can they be in the game long enough to give players like Aldridge a breather so he can be effective the full 35-38 minutes he's in the game.

Oh, and we need a true point guard to back-up Miller and eventually take his place. That COULD be Mills - I think the jury is still out on that one - but he's too green to be consistent during the play-offs.

This series will be tied come Saturday.

Perhaps. I certainly hope so. But the Blazers are not going to win four out of five games against Dallas.

Ha, the gauntlet's down. c-mon Blazer's prove BoJack wrong. The Blazer staff & coach (the front office) have dealt with a half dozen different teams (due to key personnel changes) which have all played respectably. That alone is a unique (McDonaldism) accomplishment. The personnel have been top notch, and able to build chemistry and adapt to new teammates quickly. There is an extra element (a spark) to a champion. The extra level of confidence that gives one permission to push the envelope to the limit. The belief that no one can stop their march to the top. The motivation and belief in themselves is the only thing standing in the way of the Blazer's & Greatness.

Tied. It feels good to be a Blazers fan

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