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Blake named the starting point guard... Miller headed to the bench.

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Blake named the starting point guard... Miller headed to the bench.

Blazers' Andre Miller turns his focus to winning
By Jason Quick, The Oregonian
October 23, 2009, 6:01PM

TUALATIN -- Andre Miller said almost all the right things Friday after learning he will start the season coming off the bench for the Trail Blazers.

"I came here to win," Miller said. "I feel that I will get an opportunity to do that here."

Miller said he could read the handwriting on the wall during the exhibition season, when coach Nate McMillan used Steve Blake as the starting point guard. When the decision became final after Thursday's exhibition finale in Vancouver, B.C., Miller simply shrugged his shoulders and looked ahead to Tuesday's season opener against Houston at the Rose Garden.

"I think I've handled it fine," Miller said. "I haven't made a big fuss about it. It hasn't affected how I practice. I mean, it's just different. I didn't think it would happen at this point of my career. I think I'm still peaking. But that's part of the business. I'm not making a big deal about it."

Miller was a big deal in the summer, when the Blazers signed him to a two-year, $14 million deal, with a team option for a third season. A veteran and accomplished point guard, Miller was viewed as a much-needed playmaker who could help alleviate defensive pressure on Brandon Roy.

But despite a solid preseason, during which he clearly outplayed Blake, it became more and more apparent to Miller that McMillan had developed a comfort level with last year's starters, who helped the team win 54 games.

Indeed, the only lineup change McMillan plans to make is to insert second-year center Greg Oden, who started some games last season but finished coming off the bench.

"I think it pretty much comes down to how well the team played last year," said Miller, who averaged 16.3 points and 6.5 assists for Philadelphia last season. "You know, they won 54 games, or however many games they won last year. So if I was a coach, I probably wouldn't want to change that either."

Another factor in the decision was creating offensive balance. Miller and Roy are pick-and-roll specialists, and the two never found a rhythm of when one should have the ball and when the other should defer during the limited time they played together in the preseason.

Roy said he is confident he and Miller will eventually form a chemistry, but as of today, he feels more comfortable with Blake.

"Coming into the season, a lot of people had their doubts about me and Andre, and I wondered too," Roy said. "But I didn't think it would happen right away. And that's why I'm not panicking that it hasn't happened yet, or that we haven't clicked yet. To be honest I expected it. Because we are similar. I've come to realization that I'm better with the basketball, that's my strength. And I'm looking at it, and Andre's strength is with the basketball. So, I think it will work ... I just don't know how soon."

Miller led the Blazers in preseason minutes (207) and was tied for the team lead in scoring average (13.6). He shot 44 percent from the field and had 30 assists and 16 turnovers. Blake averaged 6.4 points and 3.1 assists while shooting 36.4 percent. Blake had 25 assists and 21 turnovers.

McMillan was emphatic that Blake's starting nod was by no means an indication of Miller's play, nor does it mean Blake will play more minutes than Miller. McMillan spent much of preseason preaching that the starting lineup doesn't necessarily include the five best players, but rather a combination that best suits both units.

Plus, McMillan pointed out that his lineup can, and often does, change throughout the 82-game season.

"(Miller) is still trying to learn our sets and how we want to attack, and basically playing the style we play," McMillan said after Thursday's exhibition game. "I want the ball in his hands. Him creating with that ball in pick-and-roll situations. He's still getting a feel for how we want to play."

When it was noted to McMillan that Miller appeared to be one of his better players during the preseason, the coach didn't disagree.

"Yeah, he's good. He's a pro," McMillan said. "He can really help us. We want him attacking, being aggressive, and doing the things he does."

McMillan has envisioned a second unit of Miller, Rudy Fernandez, Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw and Joel Przybilla becoming a multi-faceted force. He likes the pick-and-roll options with Miller and Przybilla, the team's best at setting screens. And he likes the idea of Miller heading a fast-break with Fernandez and Webster -- two athletic and sharp-shooting wings -- spreading the floor.

Miller said that idea is fine, but during the preseason he never felt an emphasis or the ability to run much. Instead, Miller said McMillan "pretty much controls how the game goes from the bench."

"The same type of style they play here, I played in Philly, but we wanted to get the ball out in transition, whereas (in Portland) it's more of a controlled tempo," Miller said. "You know, play late in the shot clock. We can (fast-break) here, but that's not the style they want to play. I played this style in college for four years, so I think I can adjust to any style, it's just going to take a bit. Then everything will be all right."

Miller has played 530 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NBA, and has largely been a starter throughout his 10 NBA seasons. Outside of his rookie season in Cleveland, when he started 36 of 82 games, he has started all but one game in his career.

"Actually, I feel like I'm a rookie right now," Miller said. "I'm still hungry, still motivated. Just a different situation. They have a way they want to play, and I feel I can play that way. You know, Coach has made a decision and I have to roll with it."

Miller called his preseason play "decent," mainly because he felt he should be in better shape. And he said he is already over the oddity of not being an opening-night starter.

"If anything, I'm going to play," Miller said. "If I don't play, I guess there is something wrong with me, or I'm not good enough. But I'm here to contribute and help the team. I'm not here to cause conflict."

Note:Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge said he feels "blessed" after signing a five-year, $65 million contract extension with the team Thursday. "I've always tried to focus on the season, but now that it's over with, I can focus on what I need to do for this team," he said. Aldridge is under contract with the Blazers through the 2012-13 season.


The lake show2
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i heard that another factor

i heard that another factor is miller came in in bad shape...plus it doesnt matter who starts it who finishes/plays the most minutes ala manu in san antonio..pretty good decision

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I agree

I agree,it is kind of crazy considering that the point was they're weak point and they paid him like a starter. He should start considering Blake is a very good back up player and they have somewhat a similar skill set. Because if they weren't going to start him they should have let him know that it was a possibilty that would happen and I'm sure he would have went elsewhere. But you are right it is who finishes the games not who starts.Just I feel Miller is very good team guy and model veteran think if he outplayed Blake he should start because thats why management brought him there. But in the end it should be a non issue.He's a team guy so it will work itself out.

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wtf

i dont care what yall say. miller has to start and will. if mcmillian so comfortable with blake then why did they sign miller then? miller brings that leadership and experience needed for the playoffs especially against teams like the lakers, spurs and nuggets. its amazing they have three good point guards in miller, blake, bayless. i think one of them will get traded.

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i don't understand why

i don't understand why portland even went out and got andre miller (not a diss on miller i love him i wish my sixers had re-signed him) there a team that doesn't like to run loves to work the pick in roll with roy and lamarcus or greg and they need to space the floor for roy to get to the paint and for the bigs to beable to work down low they couldn't see this coming?.... portland doesn't usually miss with signings nowadays but i think this one was... why not save that cap-space for this up coming summer??

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because it really doesnt

because it really doesnt matter if you start or not.. so why do some players and fans think its such a big deal?..some fans yelled about manu and jr smith not starting as well..and jason terry..but after it worked for thoses teams i dont see them complaining anymore. and it will be the same case here..im sure mcmillian knows exactly what hes doing. it only doesnt make sense if miller doesnt play that much

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dont get me wrong i think

dont get me wrong i think miller is a much better point guard than steve blake but i am starting to understand where nate is coming from keeping blake in the starting lineup. like most of you i thought nate was crazy when talks of blake starting floated around this summer but after the blazers slow pre season i agree that blake should start, at least for the begenning of the season. in almost all of the pre season games the blazers looked out of sync. roy and alderidge struggled and didnt seem to know their place in the offense with miller in with them but with blake it allows roy to be the playmaker like he is used to. they just look alot more fluid with blake out there to stretch the d and with roy having the ball in his hands. this could all change even early in the season once roy and miller develope better chemestry on the court but when they were out there together in the preseason it seemed like they didnt know where the other would be or where they should be themselves. to answer your question the blazers brought miller in so that roy didnt have to be the only ball handler and playmaker at the end of games which is why miller will be in at the end, and because he is just flat out a better player than blake.

IndianaBasketball
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I'm disappointed in Kevin

I'm disappointed in Kevin Pritchard, Coach Nate and Brandon Roy. They signed a top 15 point guard and gave him $7 million, but can't figure out how to play him effectively in the starting lineup. What a shame...

I understand that they won 54 games with Blake starting at point guard, but what happened in the playoffs? The goal was to get better. They spent a lot of time last season talking about upgrading at point guard... They've done that, but aren't going to start him? The reason is because Blake fits in better with the starters. Not because he's a creator, but because he's better at feeding off of Roy's scraps and staying out of the way. Terrible. Coach Nate said that the players would decide who started/played by their play and Miller outplayed Blake during the pre-season. I agree... It's about who finishes the games, but still... Miller should be starting.

Most of all I'm disappointed in Roy. You have a veteran point guard, one of the top 15 point guards in the NBA, on your squad and all you're worried about is having to play off the ball more than you're used to? You're fresh off of a max contract extension and here you are worried about playing off the ball. I'm VERY disappointed in Roy. That's like LeBron saying that because he's used to playing with Zydrunas Illgauskas and Illguaskas being able to open lanes up with his shooting, he'd like for Shaq to come off the bench. Instead, all LeBron has talked about is developing chemistry with Shaq and getting used to one another. All Roy did was complain about his touches during the pre-season and how he was more comfortable with Blake because Blake "let him handle the ball" more. It's a good thing Paul Pierce didn't complain when Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett were added to the squad.

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i agree tezo. roy seem like

i agree tezo. roy seem like a great guy and we know hes an amazing player but its like he didnt even try to match his game up with millers. its true the do bring pretty much the same thing to the game but once they figured out how to play off one another they would be even better than a linup with blake and roy starting. dissapointing roy! whats your deal? on the other hand having a 2nd unit of miller fernandez webster outlaw and pryz could be a monster. miller is great at driving and pick and roll offense and he'l be with pryz who is the best at setting screens on the team. then you have 3 shooters for him to dish to. he will be able to run with rudy and webster next to him and will be able to be the 1st or 2nd option which he wouldnt be if he were starting.

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I agree. I mean, I think

I agree. I mean, I think Miller will play well regardless if he's in the first or second unit. It's also not like he won't ever play with the starters. He should still be the starter though. They say that he'll be on the floor at the end of games, but how does that make sense? If Roy isn't comfortable enough with Miller to start the game, what sense does it make that he'd be comfortable with Miller enough to end the game? The only sensible thing for Roy to do is stop complaining about having to play off the ball and expand his game. If he wants to be an elite player, he has to have a complete game.

Miller, Fernandez, Webster, Outlaw and Prybilla could easily be the starting lineup for a few teams. Miller will have the opportunity to do what he does more in the second unit. He'll be able to post up more too. I think he'll make Pryzbilla a lot better. He'll destroy other teams' second unit point guards.

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its obvious miller seems to

its obvious miller seems to have a problem wit it also o all of them need to stop complaining and just play. i can also understand why he wouldnt start in the beginning if hes not working well with youre star player..every team in the leauge accomodates there star player so this is no different. i can also understand some one being more comfortable with one player since they have played with them more and the player knows what to do to get him in the best postion though he should probably not say anything to the media..hopefully it wont get to the point of a jordan or some other stars who have players shipped out because they dont work as well with them

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Andre

if dre can work his game for portlands second unit. Portland could be very hard to beat. Dre is a point gaurd that brings out the best in who he is playing with. The first unit is solid, andre will play the crucial 4th quarter mintues though, isn't that what matters.

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exactly..the only people

exactly..the only people with the problem is his ego and some fans neither of which im sure mcmillian could careless about..the coach is doing a great job so far and has this team going in the right direction so theres really no reason to question him now..im sure his plan will work out fine as always

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First

First off, I think the way the team is designed that Blake is better off starting with Roy. Roy has also voiced being more comfortable with Blake, but again they have played a couple of years together. I think that those of you that brought up the point about Roy not trying to adapt make a great point. Great players eventually adapt, especially when they have the chance to put better players around them. There is part of me that also thinks that surely Miller would not have came to Portland if he wasn't going to start, but as long as they win I think he will deal with it.

I think Portland went from being in a great spot to a really bad one. I just have a feeling that they are closer to imploding than moving a step forward. They just locked up Aldridge to a long term deal, but they have a lot of young guys that will be ready for new deals soon and there won't be much money to go around. Turkoglu was going to be a bad signing, but they lucked out on that one. It seems like they felt like they had to spend money just because it was there. If they were smart they would save that money and combine it with the rest of the money that was going to get freed up. I know the Miles contract would be coming off the books after this year, Outlaw and Blake are expiring this year, and Miller is making about 7 million a year. Without signing Miller and letting those deals expire would give them enough to sign a max player.

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Blake

Steve Blake does provide the 3 point threat for the starting lineup, that is a fact that I think is slept on. He has always been about to hit the spot up jumper on the kickout from roy's drives. Personally I think if the Bayless situation had worked out as originally planned this would not be an issue. Roy loves to dominate the ball in offensive sets and Bayless has always been more of a "combo" guard even back in his days at Arizona (poor assist to turnover ratio, but gets to the line with consistency). I think the blazers imagined roy playing the "point" on offensive sets with bayless defending the opposing teams point guard on the other side of the court. Hasn't exactly worked out, and with a relatively week free agency period this year the blazers took a flyer on somebody who doesn't "fit". Lets see how long Miller "says the right things" 25 games into the season...

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I love both guys

I can't understand why Andre Miller couldn't get the starting spot... He is a natural born leader and is obviously a guy that can make things around him better. Steve Blake is a good PG but see him starting over Andre is utterly striking and shocking in my opinion. You talk about a guy that has a huge chance of getting this team deep into the playoffs and he remains off the bench. A veteran PG that plays no fancy basketball and all he does was win and try to win... I personally think the Blazers are going to get better with Andre around... Even if he's not doing anything, he'll still get guys like Roy and Bayless some advice because he knows what it's like to play under pressure.

Brandon Roy needs to stop concluding on such basis on how he could not work well with Miller. Miller doesn't give a damn if he ever gets a shot... He will gladly give up his attempts for Roy.

Since we can't do anything abut it now, I expect Miller to come off the bench and help the second unit produce. And I think he'll be fine... He just needs time to mesh.

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marcus just because nate

marcus just because nate says that blake is the starter at the begenning of the season doesnt mean that he will be for the whole season. i expect miller to play himself into the starting lineup at some point this season. he is just a much better point guard than blake is plain and simple. the only reason that miller isnt starting to begin with is because he hasnt meshed well with the starters yet. roy has even said that he is more comfortable with blake at this point and from what i hear blazers management take roys opinions seriously. not only was it roy though if you saw anything of the blazers pre season youd notice that they just seem out of sync so far. roy and miller didnt play well off each other. even though roy was struggling miller deffinitely showed that he is the more talented player at the point guard position. (i still think bayless will end up being better and could be like a more athletic tony parker once he develops a little more skill at running the offense, although i think he would fit nice with roy at this point because all the pg really needs to do in the blazers offense is walk the ball up to halfcourt and give it to roy to initiate the offense and space the floor) andre and roy bring pretty much the same thing to the court seeing as they both are good pick and roll players, slashers, have a good midrange game but dont have much of a consistant outside shot. the one thing that blake may be better than miller at is deep shooting, which helps keep defenders a little more honest when helping out on roy. the last game of the season blake started with roy batum aldridge and oden. i like batum starting because he is a great defender and helps out the team while at the same time not taking away from roy or aldridges shot attempts which helps keep the magority of the shots to the 2 primary options allows them to start out warmed up. roy was absolutely dominant in this game and had he been playing regular season minutes he wouuld have dropped 40. 17 points in the first quarter and he didnt play again to the 3rd. aldridge had a good game too and oden helped open things up for everybody. it looked alot better with blake in the starting lineup and everyone played like they knew where they were supposed to be. miller is the best post up option in the 2nd unit seeing as pryz is a great defender but struggles on offense and outlaw has the bball iq of a rock. he is also a great pick and roll player and pryz is a great screen setter. miller could end up being in contention for 6th man of the year running a fast paced 2nd unit and dishing to 2 great athletic shooters in fernandez and webster, and trav can spot up and hit a 3 with pryz anchoring the defense and miller driving and dishing. could be real fun to watch, and i cant wait for the regular season to start!

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okayy

i realize that starting isn't everything...and for other teams they've had star players brought off the bench like manu, JR, etc
but for those situations those players had been with the team for an X amount of time and weren't just signed
they NEEDED and WANTED and upgrade at point...they get miller which was great and then you won't start him?...
he's started like 500 something straight games! he's never come off the bench since he was a rookie
is carter starting in orlando? hedo in toronto? shaq in cleveland? yeah they're all starting and so should miller
this is ridiculous and i can't believe roy, he should welcome better talent and try to mesh as quickly as possible
people say well it's all about who finishes games....stfu you know nothing about basketball or miller
it's a mentality and miller has had a mentality of starting and he's done a great job
all this does is make them the same exact team as last year and i promise they won't do as well if they don't use this miller upgrade and start him
everyone else is incorporating their freshed signed talent while portland is playing it safe....watch what happens
mark my words

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I LOVE Blake playmaking

I LOVE Blake playmaking skills..it doesn't matter who starts it's who finishes..I think Miller can help make Oden a better player..Blake gets lost on defense and sometimes his man gets by him..That causes Oden to make silly fouls trying to protect the basket and stop Blake's man from scoring...Miller is a better defender,he's bigger and stronger than Blake...

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like others said it doesnt

like others said it doesnt matter who starts so i dont understand why some of ya'll are making uch a big deal out of it....and odens fouls were from oden being young and foul prone and not timing block shots correctly. if you watch you 'll see his man get the ball on the block and give hm a fake or use better footwork and oden tries to block and pick up cheap fouls..so far watching him hes gotten better at not fouling but he still has his lapses which is common for a young big man. blake actually playes pretty good defense so im not sure where the he ges lost alot i comming from. yes miller is a better pg but if o far him and roy arent working well together then you need to ease him in not throw him in and disrupt the team chemistry and lose a couple games because of it esspecially when every game in the wet is very important, you slowly work miller in untill him and roy gel together.

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also millers game can help

also millers game can help and hurt odens game..who ever is checking miller will be able to double down on oden or aldridge because they know miller wont be knocking down the three consistantly

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