FanPost

Old memories, new eyes, and a look to the future

A youtuber has games 3-7 of the 2000 WCF posted (http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=jdm7131), and I have finished watching games 6 and 3.  I don't know a lot about basketball still, but I'm a genius compared to back when I was watching those games happen.

Some observations on those two games, as I was watching them and how it relates to today's team (people with better Bball IQ or who closely watched that team, fell free to jump in in the comments with any rebuttals).

For all the talent they had, it didn't seem like they had an actual system.  It wasn't a case of anybody could get hot, but more like, "SOMEBODY has to get hot with all this talent."
      Pippen was spectacular at running the offense, but due to age/injuries, you'd see him initiate, but not finish, while everyone else just stood around.  
      The closest thing we had to a system was isolation plays for whoever had the hot hand.  This led to triple teams and needless turnovers.
      Bonzi was money in the post.  All-around, our best, or at least most explosive, post player.  Upon figuring this out, I was amazed we took it to seven games.
      When the triangle was moving, it was beautiful.  John Salley, for the two minutes I saw him, did not understand the triangle.
      For all the criticism Sheed got for losing his cool (not to say he didn't lose his cool or deserve to be criticized) the ENTIRE TEAM had that problem.  Pippen getting chippy with Fox, Steve Smith occasionally flaring up at calls, Sabas flaring up at almost every call.  Lot of boneheaded reactions and plays to go around for that team.  Notice how Sheed is still Sheed, but a little more thriving and under control in Detroit?  That's because the rest of the team are cool enough to help keep him focused.
      This team could not win when it's shot wasn't falling, at least in this series.  The Lakers could.
      We were a team that seemed to live by doing the uncontrollables better than our opponent (i.e., shooting %).  It was like flipping a coin.  Winning 3 out of 7 seems fiiting.
      Too much of this could probably be leveled at the Drexler teams (though I don't remember them standing around as much).
    When they turned up the D, it was spectacular.

More than anything, it has not been nearly as disappointing or painful watching what happened as remembering it.  The Lakers had chemistry and ego issues, were not yet THE Lakers, and were vulnerable.  But they were the better team.  They bounced back from tough losses, closed games out, more often than not stuck to a successful game plan, waited out poor shooting, and kept plugging away until everything clicked.
Portland winning would not have been a huge upset, but it would have been a matter of streaking the right way 4 times out of 7, instead of 3 out of 7.

How this relates to Roy Era.

      I've said, maybe not on this site yet, that these Blazers' best accomplishment so far is that they have beaten history.  The problems that have plagued past Portland teams are not here right now.  

They win when they shoot poorly
they are a 4th quarter team
they have a level of composure you would kill to see in a veteran team
they stand up for themselves without being hotheaded about it
they seem to have more of a system on the court (though maybe not always applied, as they ARE young)
The hot hand seems to stay within the system
Roy being able to score from anywhere greatly helps him in initiating the offense
We have, what, two technicals all year?  One on Nate, and one on Joel as part of a double T (NO game?).  That's it.

Remember the San Antonio Softies?  They could always win 55-60 games between December and March, but those four losses always came too quickly in April or May.  But they haven't been called that for years (except by some frustrated fans in the '05 Finals).  What happened?  R.C. Buford happened.  His system happened.  And someone to lead that system, named Tim Duncan, happened.

Portland was infamous for late collapses, or being "hotheaded" or "in jail."  What happened?  Kevin Pritchard happened.  Nate happened.  Culture and system happened.  And then a floor leader to guide it, named Brandon Roy, and perfect fit named Greg Oden, happened.  

I'm oversimplifying eras, games, and weaknesses here, but it is to illustrate a point I cannot emphasize enough:  These Trailblazers are a new breed, a revolution for this franchise's history, for it's psyche.  For those old enough, (I'm not, so I'm just speculating here), remember how Portland was always losing until 1976?  How everything came together, and nothing was the same after, how this town learned to be winners?  It's happening all over again.  We won't be able to grasp this until years later when we remember, and try hopelessly to recapture the feelings we'll have on the journey from here on out.  

This is not just ebb and flow eventuality like 1990-92 or 1999-2000; like Boston reclaiming it's heritage, or like Piston dominance or Laker glory returning.  We are going back to square one, and we are doing it different, doing it right.  

This isn't so much a rebirth of the successes of the last 25-30 years, but a phoenix rising from the ashes of the failures of the last 25-30 years.

And when Oden comes back, God help the National Basketball Association.  

Go Blazers.

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