Another Trail Blazer adventure into ugliness
December 2nd, 2009
by Dwight Jaynes
So many things to say about a 107-100 Portland home defeat at the hands of the Miami Heat. Sorry if it’s a little random, but there’s just so much to talk about… such as:
– Greg Oden had an off-night shooting the ball. Sort of. He didn’t get great shots, though, because of his team’s inability to get him the ball in any sort of scoring opportunity other than with his back to the basket. What would be wrong with setting a pick for him away from the ball and letting him slice across the middle, maybe have a chance to catch it on his way to the basket for an easy dunk? Nobody on the other team was big enough to stop a lob to him, either.
And let me take that a step farther, what would be wrong with actually looking for him on that high pick-and-roll for once? Maybe get him rolling right at the rim for a monster dunk? Oh, you think someone from the other team is going to step in front of THAT and try to take a charge? Let them. Then send them flowers in the hospital room.
– Folks, with the Trail Blazers, it’s just like it was last season: The pick and roll is the biggest basketball mystery for the franchise — how to run it and how to defend it. Damn, buy a book or something. In fact, on offense, we just ought to start calling it the “pick-and-ignore.” The only time Oden got the ball off the zillion high picks he set was late in the game when Steve Blake suddenly panicked off a drive and dumped the ball back in Oden’s hands.
Come on, Brandon Roy — at least LOOK at the guy, as if you’re at least considering throwing him a pass off that play. I asked the coach about it after the game — the idea that Portland looks for the screener on that play so infrequently that the other team isn’t even bothering to defend him — and got a bunch of double-talk that I didn’t even bother to write down.
– Just watch the shots in this game. Portland shoots 39. 1 percent — and it was no accident. Miami was in the Blazers’ face all night. Even Oden couldn’t get easy shots — they were on him hard and pushing him pretty far off the block all night. The Blazers, meanwhile, were allowing wide-open three-pointers and dunks. Again. Folks, don’t think this just started a couple of games ago. It’s been going on all season but the opponents were so inept that they simply missed the open shots. The Heat shot 53.3 percent and it was no fluke.
– Greg Oden: 20 rebounds, and 11 — yes, ELEVEN — offensive rebounds with four blocked shots.. That’s Moses Malone stuff. Seriously. And he played just 30 minutes. And don’t let the final box deceive you — he had only three fouls going into the waning moments of the game and spent a couple intentionally late just to stop the clock.
It’s time to get serious here, folks. Oden has to play more minutes. Period. But if his coach doesn’t show faith in his ability to play with fouls, he’s never going to improve in that area. And he may have to learn the hard way. He may have to foul out — maybe even early in a game or two — before he learns. So what? He’s got to learn. And really — he’s fouled out just once this year.
So far this season, he’s the only real bright spot. The guy is a unique talent. There aren’t centers pulling down 11 offensive rebounds in the NBA anymore. PLAY HIM. AND GET THE DAMN BALL TO HIM!!!
– It’s as if Brandon Roy has forgotten his game. And certainly he’s not showing much of an ability to adjust. He wants the ball in his hands more — but you know what, I’m not sure he’s going to be able to do what he used to do with it.
Teams are ganging up on him. They aren’t letting him just do what he wants to do — it’s the way of the league. Teams adjust, they take things away from you and force you to do something else. But there’s Roy on the perimeter nightly, pounding the ball, forcing stuff that isn’t there. He’s overhandling it, big time.
For your own good, man, get off the ball for a while. The guys will give it back to you.
– Didn’t these guys watch Orlando last season in the playoffs? Spread the floor, give the ball to the big guy inside and let him operate. The double-teams will come and then somebody will be open for a very good shot, especially if the perimeter guys are smart enough to cut to the basket, to move, to be basketball players instead of spectators. Oden some day is going to be the guy everyone wants as a teammate. He’s going to make everybody better at both ends of the floor. But you’ve got to help him. And help yourselves.
– Damn, I get tired of pounding away on some of this stuff. But on defense, helping out cannot come down just to the centers having to clean up all the messes. Both Portland centers are landing in foul trouble all the time because they’re being forced to deal with constant penetration. Help each other! Rotate! It’s not brain surgery.
They don’t let us into practice anymore, but in the early ’90s, Rick Adelman used to practice the old “shell” drill, with four defenders against five offensive players, just walling off the inside, with players hustling to help each other and deny penetration.
You see, Portland does not have any perimeter defenders. Not many teams do. With no hand-checking allowed and all the quickness in the league, it’s tough to stay in front of people out there. So you need help. Lots of it. Watch the good teams play, for heaven’s sake.
I’m so tired of this. I hate writing this junk over and over — it’s like a broken record. But it just keeps on going. And going. And going. The defensive stuff was all there last season but the team won anyway, because its offensive efficiency was so good. I wrote about it then and early in this season and a lot of you wanted to call me the “voice of doom” and “Mr. Negative” — but I’m sorry, it was there lurking and now it’s in the open because of all the offensive problems.
And I don’t think it’s going to be a quick fix, either.
well i wouldn't say they dont have any perimeter defenders Batum is out and hes their lock down guy on d hes a special defender one of the better ones in the league and hes only 20 right now. i agree this team has shooter like Aldridge Blake and Rudy feed it to oden and let him kick it to the jump shooters and i agree Roy and Oden could be deadly on the pick & Roll.
I always thought that no matter what Portland was at least 2 years away from competing for a championship, but even then that was a big IF...If Oden becomes the player they believe he can be, if Aldridge improves and if they can manage to keep around at least some of their young talent which looks less likely everyday with Bayless rotting away, Fernandez not getting as much time as he would on other teams and Outlaw being underappreciated. Speaking of Bayless...he's not playing because Steve Blake is better? He's not a point guard? I would say false to the first one, true to the second and that doesn't even matter because Roy always has the ball.
I never understood why they brought in Miller and always thought they should have just saved their cap space. With that said, Miller is here so everyone needs to adjust. Roy needs to just shut up and play basketball. Let Miller run the show and you need to become better at other areas of your game. Your defense still needs a lot of work. I lost a lot of respect for Roy this year. I'm sure that Portland fans like not only having a good team, but guys that stay out of trouble, but some changes are going to have to be made. Aldridge is softer than the pancakes I had for breakfast. He needs to be down low helping out Oden and Pryzbilla downlow. If you are a 7 footer, at least 5 rebounds are probably just falling in your hands if you put your arms up.
I still to this day would have picked Durant over Oden, but who knows, maybe Roy would have been pissed that he got the ball too much. Problem is they have Oden. If you are going to win with this guy, he has to get the ball. He's going to make mistakes, but he has to learn. It's not just about one or two guys getting better, it's about the whole team. He's never going to be a go to guy down low, but there is no reason his teammates can't help him improve. Anyone on that team that doesn't realize that needs to go. If they are to win a championship, it's going to be because of Oden and I say that as someone that is not a fan of him.