Watching the Blazers I am like any other fan, I scream at my tv when:
-The refs call crazy fouls on Oden
-Don't give Yao fouls when he hacks someone,
-When Blake dribbles too much
-When LMA pops, instead of rolls on a pick and roll
-etc, etc, etc...
But in reflecting on this series so far, it becomes clear to me why the Blazers are sitting in a 3-1 hole. They have been very close in two games in Houston, one play here, or one play there could have changed the outcome. But to my eye, that one play needs to, and can only come from one player, LaMarcus Aldridge.
He is above all other players the one who has disappointed me the most this post season. It is not a huge shock, after all this is his first playoff test, and in his career he has never handled his first test of anything extremely well. In the last two months of the season he averaged about 19ppg, 9 rpg, 2assists, 1block, shooting 48%, and 83% from the line. In the first round that has dropped to 16.5ppg, 8.3rpg, 1.3assists, 2blocks, 44% shooting and 69% from the line. So maybe his last 2 months were just a good stretch, until you see his full season avg of 18.1ppg, 7.5rpb, 1.9assist, 1block, 48%shooting and 78% from the line.
The biggest factor in his decreased production has been his inability to post up Scola and company. His FG% in the 3 losses were, 25%, 40%, and 47%, in the one win he shot 58%. This has caused his fg% to drop significatly, along with a drop in his FT attempts. For the season LMA avg 4 FT per game, take out game 2 where he got to the line 8 times and he is avg only 1.6 FT per game, include it and he only gets up to 3.25 per game, (Game 2 is the only win for the Blazers in the series if you forgot, maybe this getting to the line think works huh?). We have not seen the post moves of LMA accept for game two, where he made a few lucky shots, but still was down on the block looking for contact and playing strong. The other 3 games he has been unable or unwilling to get down and dirty, causing him to shoot 20 footers, which he is now missing regularly. it is well known that if a player can get a few easy buckets, then his jumper will start to fall with more regularity.
Roy is doing his thing, average over 28 ppg, his assists are way down though, only 2.5 per game in the playoffs compared to 5.1 during the season. As many as 3 of those assists during the season are from pick and pops where LMA hits the shot, but without him hitting, Roy doesn't get the assists. His rebounds are up, his FT% is over 90%, his blocks are up, and steals are up. Blake's stats are up as well, he is playing well, even with 2 really badly timed turnover/shots. 10.2ppg, 7.3apg, 3rpg, 47% FG, 40%3pt. That is pretty steady.
Yes Outlaw has played like a scared kitten, but Rudy could and should make up for that if Nate would let him play. Rudy is avg 20mpg in the playoffs, vs 25mpg during the season. His FG% and 3pt% are through the roof at 57% and 58% respectively. Rudy needs to play more, that is without question.
But no one can replace what LMA gives this team, the Blazers need the LMA of March and April to not only win this series, but game 5.