I hate it when fans start whining and moaning every time the Blazers loose a couple in a row. I also hate it when fans start grinding on Nate, if we loose, it means Nate has screwed up rotations, or he doesn't know how to teach defense. You know the drill: blah, blah, blah.
All that being said, I feel compelled to WHINE. I claim no great expertise in basketball, although I have been watching the Blazers since the days of Roland Todd and Geoff Petrie. But, for the past two seasons, the thing that has stood out to me is the defensive struggles of Portland's PGs. Time and time again, I have watched Blake struggle to stay in front of the quicker PGs in the league. In order to keep from getting consistently torched off the dribble, he stays so far off his man that he can't pressure the ball, can't cut off any passing lanes, and can't contest jumpers.
Sergio is option two. His defense in years one and two was simply atrocious. He has improved significantly, but he still consistently struggles. I would rate his defense as about a toss-up with Blake's. Blake seems to have better position, but lacks lateral quickness. Sergio has somewhat better quickness, but is frequently out of position or caught leaning the wrong way.
The last two nights were like a spotlight illuminating these weaknesses. First, Aaron Brooks drove by Blake with astonishing ease. If Brooks had a better finish, he could have scored 40. As it was he scored 20. Brooks wasn't super efficient, but that had more to do with his outside shooting than anything Blake did to slow him down.
Then last night, Parker torched Blake in the first half. Nate barely even tried putting Sergio on Parker, a few possessions and it was clear that Sergio was not the answer. In the second half, Nate tried Batum and then Outlaw, mostly to poor effect.
All of this poses a simple question: where was Bayless? Few would contest the observation that Bayless is the fastest and strongest of the teams PGs. Sure he is green and would have likely been burned at least a few times. But good grief, when you are getting killed, why not give the kid a shot at slowing Parker down?
At a minimum, last night seemed tailor made for Bayless' offensive repertoire. Parker is not a great defender, and with no Duncan in the middle, why not see if Bayless can get to the rim? Let Bayless push the pace and see if he can get some transition buckets or get to the line for some easy points?
I don't think any of this is rocket science. Certainly, any observer of the team had to be asking the same questions. I am sure that the Blake and Sergio fans take this as validation of their view of Bayless' readiness.
Bottom Line: Either I am badly mistaken in my observations of our three point guards, or my faith in Nate's competence is badly shaken. Again, I am no expert, but am I that wrong? Are Blake and Sergio playing better defense than I give them credit for? Are my perceptions of Bayless totally off? Or is our coach guilty of malpractice? I have to believe my own eyes. Last night marks the first time I have had serious doubts about Nate, as a coach.