The boob tube told me the internet (series of tubes that it is) will hammer n00bs down with web-speak. Blogosphere hell BE is not. Blogosphere 0, literate Portland 1. But I guess there's a time and myspace for everything.
I am sitting here after the thrashing handed our home town heros last night in Madison Garden Garden with one take-away: Dave's comment that, while we were listless overall, at times the team did play with some energy.
"I am the focus of our offense ... where I go, the team goes ... I am tired of being the one who has to sacrifice my game the most ... the superstar should not be the one having to sacrifice ..."
Do you remember this character? Once upon a time, the Blazers had an extremely effective young player they gave a max deal. That player then demanded the ball on every possession, was the team leader in points and minutes with the ball in his hands, and started to disaffect the members of his team who were not interested in his personal vision.
Who are we talking about? The loved B-Roy or the hated Z-Bo?
When I heard a comparison of these two players on BE the first time earlier this season, I thought, 'Never in the same sentence!' Now I not only pair them, I ask the musical question!
I recall when T-Bob gave Z-Bo his max deal. Never again would our NBA hobo score 20 a night from weak-side put-backs. No, it was his team, and the sets would now run through him. Were you watching when B-Roy, who, with the entire Knick team collapsed in the paint waiting on him, decided to penetrate 1-on-5, got stripped (naturally) and watched as the ball headed the other way? That is st00pid.
B-Roy has to have his Blakey. Even when Miller comes in, Miller has to play Blake's role, standing around for Roy's pass out of the inevitable double-team for a three that Miller might hit at 25% if he's lucky. And for you Bayless fans (he is looking good!), Bayless can't play his role as penetrator alongside Roy when we are investing in Roy-ball. We have two of our three PGs, good players in this league, who -- for the commitment to one player -- don't have a home for their game on this roster. And that is st00pid.
Shot Clock not Blazers' Friend!
We got a superstar SG who can't use screens and cut off the ball. The coaches have the rest of the team standing around watching. No wonder the opponent's have figured us out. Not only are they stifling our offense, they are saving energy to run our and pound us down at the other end. Not being able or willing to utilize screens, move defenders to create mis matches, involving everyone in the offense, and make the opposing team work on D is ... surprising.
Play Basketball 'Little Bit', Squish Like Bug!
Play basketball yes? Okay. Play basketball, no? Okay. Play basketball "Little Bit" ... Please realize, regardless of what Nate is telling us about effort ... okay, I'll say it, I think that's just a cop-out. If effort was all it took, George Foreman would have left Ali on the canvass in Zaire and not the other way around. It takes intelligence to beat the other guy. A group of people, especially. But in team sports, intelligence is often subbed out for The Plan. Nate's plan has stifled this team's offense. We need to find the answers on the floor, and we won't do that sticking to the sets we do that pose so few challenges. We need to play more intelligently, learn how to play fluid, full-on basketball. (Joel, for instance, should learn how to catch a basketball. There must be drills. Once he's got the ball, he's fine. Hands, Joel!) Play Basketball Yes!
Nate lost the Seattle players for working them into the ground. He wore our players out last year during that stretch run into the playoffs. He has a poor track record keeping players healthy. The ultimate irony in Nate's coaching style is that he even injured himself recently in a scrimmage. (Heres to a speedy recovery. He is a good man.) Don't expect Sarge to go changin'.
Okay, Mr. Smartypants, here we are, the walking wounded, way to kick us when we're down! And what would you suggest, then? Well ...
Play. Freaking. Basketball.
Got it? Weird idea to involve all of your players to defeat all of their players, I know. Hardly seemed fair at all, going into the year with all the talent we could put on the court. That's what had Andre Miller following the team around Vegas last summer like a little barky dog who's family's come home from a long vacation without him.
Instead, our brain trust is investing in a superstar concept which might get enough whistles to drag us to 54+ regular season wins. (Not in MSG, though. Thank you for not whistling!) Even our coaches weren't willing to leave behind Greg Oden, though. And boy did Roy let us know about that! [That's the kind of honesty that so endeared us to Rasheed Wallace.]
We got Andre Miller not because he fit Nate's limited concept. No. He is that veteran floor general Nate had been asking for, though. [But where is my banger 4/5 I was asking for KP? Do NOT think you're off the hook, even though you tried to bring me an Andre Miller.]
Even though Miller is 6-1 as a starter, Nate refuses to consider starting at PG. Because Andre Miller wants to, get this, Play Fluid Basketball. He isn't mentally invested in our junior high offense. Miller knows that when you move defenders, you create mismatches. He sees what we have been missing. He wants to help this team play smarter.
Earlier on, it must have been killing him every day a little more on the inside to see everything going to waste on this team. Then Nate told him in no uncertain terms that he would not be playing beautiful, fluid basketball with our players, no way!
Now? With Oden out, Miller's marginally better than useless. No one left is crazy enough to buy into his style of real, full-on basketball without the support of the coaches. And we are talking coaches who won't even insist that Roy fill the lanes on the break. But Miller's a professional. If you don't want to play basketball the right way, that is really sad, given what this team could be. But Miller knows it is just not his call. And if no one wants to hear him talk about it, either, that's fine, too. If there's one thing Miller knows how to do it's shut up. He'll play Santa, and let us get what we ask for.
Play. Freaking. Defense.
Please play those players willing to D up. Simple, I know.
Don't automatically flash to cutters, because ... see ... the other teams know how to play bas-ket-ball. They know to drive to create double teams. And they know that if you are alone, you cut to the rim and the other team knows to look for that. Knowing all that, they must be freakin' geniuses! With Greg out, Joel will need his fouls (count on Howard using up his pretty fast). It is time to play hard perimeter D or to sit. And it will be hard, too, with how rested the other team will be from watching Roy operate for 20 seconds.
Get Healthy and Host Big Parties!!!
I had intended to call Blazerfan out for thinking that the NBA higher-ups would let the Blazers ever win a title again. But, if you haven't noticed yet, I am st00pid, too. Here's to BIG PARTIES, with Greg and Rudy and Nic drenched in (Andre) champagne, in 2011-12-13-...