Blazers vs Mavs – Game 6 (First Round Western Finals, 2011)
April 29, 2011, 6:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Last night the Portland Trailblazers dropped Game 6 to the Dallas Mavericks 103 – 96 in a disappointing, yet oddly optimistic First Round series loss. Yes, we can watch the tape, count missed free throws, missed opportunities, poor weak side defense, point out bad rotation off the picks, compare stats, and indeed there will be plenty of time for that, but more importantly the battered up Blazers have identified some major problems which can and should be resolved in the off season. The future is not so bright that one would have to wear shades, but there is definitely a silver lining on the clouds.

Team: Lamarcus Aldridge (PF) had a tremendous career season and demonstrated his ability to out play most defenders in the post. He has a developed a great 12 ft jump shot and has been a force on defense and as an offensive rebounder. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he is the star of the team. But, in comparison to other teams, consistent play from Lamarcus alone will not carry Portland anywhere near the Second Round. He simply is a not super-duper star and currently does not possess the champion spirit. Not to point out the obvious, but Lamarcus at his best is still only half as good as what Greg Oden could have/should have been. No use crying over spilt milk, but we do it anyway.

When Oden returns off the bench next season (perhaps after the All-Star Break) he will only be about 40% and to top it off he must overcome the mental barriers which more often than not end recovering careers. Once we see what he is capable of (first 2 weeks of play), the Blazers Staff will then have to decide how his game should evolve and what his role will be. There is no way to really prepare for this until he steps foot on the court. I personally want him to become a defense stop in the paint and gather atleast 15 boards a game. I don’t mind continuing to let Lamarcus work the paint, in fact I encourage it. He’s the only one I feel semi-confident in having the ball all the time.

With a cast of “decent” ball players and two stars sans knees cartilage eating up the salaries, who do you keep and who do you let go? An aging Andre Miller (PG) proved his ability to handle the team, capitalize on post mismatches, not turn over the ball, and ignite the crowd with his backdoor alley-oop passes. I commend his play. He has had a handful of big games this year, and as a vet, has fought tooth and nail every second of each game. It’s the younger class who leave us guessing.

Brandon Roy should start next year, not because “we owe it to him”, SCREW LOYALTY, this is business. He should start because he is a threat. I think he should start every game at Point, and we should draft and trade for two more guards. His career will be short lived, and he needs an apprentice, but we don’t have the luxury of fretting about 5 years down the line. Run him hard and give him the support he needs now. If he increases his court IQ, and fulfills the role that Miller had this season, in addition to his random Roy moments, it’ll be enough to keep defenders on their toes and perhaps might be the key to get team mates Wes Matthews, Nicholas Batum, Lamarcus Aldridge, and Gerald Wallace high percentage shots. For those aforementioned individuals, it is directly their responsibility and the responsibility of the staff to make those shots, no excuses.If you can’t make easy buckets, your ass is on the bench. Period. The leading scorers for next season should be Lamarcus Aldridge (22 avg), Wes Matthews (18 avg), and Gerald Wallace (18 avg), in that order. Nicholas Batum should be the 6th man getting at least 30 min per game, and being prepped to be a solid-euro style Ginobli player. It would be nice to have him shoot the 3-ball consistently in the second half.

During the off season I’m trading (or letting go) of Andre Miller, Marcus Camby, Chris Johnson (He could develop, but I rather use his stock as sway), Armon Johnson, and Rudy Fernandez. I’ve not yet made up my mind about Patty Mills. I love his enthusiasm and I am sure he is a coach’s dream, but he is definitely expendable. I am keeping him though, I think we are only paying him $20/year anyway. I’d like him to become a J.J. Barea style player. He is so stoked to play, that he gets in the game and freaks out. He is fast, the dude is really fast. He will act as a bumblebee that darts around big men creating a diversion (said like Orlando Bloom in LOTR) allowing key players to get shots off.

Luke Babbit, I’m keeping this kid. He has the ability to come off the bench, shoot the ball, and get us some quick points. Yes, he has a long way to go, but I think he is humble enough to accept his role and not cry to the media even if he ever gets to that Rudy level.

In the off season, I’m drafting a guard in the first round, trading for another vet guard (I want to say Baron Davis, but no. Someone that can fit into our program, but someone with experience and attitude), and I am picking up two younger Centers (not too young though). Even as Oden returns you are not going to get more than 25-30 min out of him. We need people to rebound, replace Camby on defense, and give Lamarcus extra confidence to shoot those 12 footers. As of right now, if he misses, it’s almost guaranteed the other team is getting the rebound. The Blazers got real lucky with that this year. So starting five,

1 – Brandon Roy
2 – Wes Matthews
3 – Crash
4 – Lamarcus Aldridge
5 – ?? *Some big (youngish) dudes that can get boards and hold the other team to their averages most nights (easier said than done I know). They don’t have to be the greatest. I want the Centers to split minutes and give Lamarcus a couple more minutes rest before the half.

Nicholas Batum is coming off the bench for Wes and Crash and getting minutes. My hope is he can average 12 pts per game, and develop his slashing and three point shot. No mid-range stuff. The Blazers should be selectively utilizing the baseline more.

Overall, I want to see faster ball movement and less turnovers (you are in the NBA for gosh sake, no more bonehead passes). An element needs to be added when Lamarcus has the ball in the post. Fools should not be standing around, especially you Brandon Roy. Lamarcus is not at the point where he is getting double teamed, more pick and rolls at the perimeter. Wes and Crash this is all you. The crowd will love it. You guys are young I want to see blood, sweat, and tears, I want to see fire. I don’t mean recklessness, just smart confident play. Shoot your shot young blood.

Coach: Defense and Rebounds for 7 games straight young Jedi. Practice, practice, practice. Coach Nate, you have done an impeccable job this season with scraps. The momentum that the Blazers had on the road and at home this season was more than anyone could ask for. Why you guys beat the good teams and lose to the crappy ones I have no clue. Those few minor things at the half that inevitably lead to 4th quarter droughts resulting in close loses are a bummer. Brandon Roy’s return was confusing for just about everyone in the league. That should have been used in our favor, and not against us. This hot and cold shooting is a bear to manage. Roles need to be established. Team ball is cool, but someone needs to get it done. Fist over dollar. The Blazers need to shoot their shots, and not buckle on the defensive end when buckets are not falling. The 4th quarter is a problem, same shit your coaches have been telling you your whole lives. Blast some Jay-Z or Tupac in the locker at half time or something. Got to keep that momentum flowing. The Blazers have demonstrated, that when they execute they are a tough team to beat. It’s not a talent issue, so establishing roles, having a back up plan, and making quicker adjustments, is a start. I’ll be the first to say the Blazers defense is crappy. Let’s start with that.

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