Tonight, even after Howard missed two free throws with about 11 seconds remaining, the Magic still were up by three and had the upper hand. As long as they didn't allow a three-pointer, they'd be even in the series and the pressure would shift to the Lakers. But on the ensuing play, Jameer Nelson unaccountably played back on Derek Fisher, allowing him to drain a wide-open three-pointer, leading to an overtime victory for the Lakers. With that one boneheaded play, Nelson effectively ended his team's promising championship run. And with that play, Nelson reminded me of why I hope the Blazers trade Trout.
In fairness, Trout isn't the only Blazer player who makes lots of dumb plays. But the others are newbies, whereas Trout is now a six-year veteran. It's simply unrealistic to think his ability to think the game of basketball (see, I didn't mention "basketball IQ") will improve going forward.
Returning to Nelson's disastrous brain fart: this was exactly the type of boneheaded play at a critical time in a playoff series that I've long believed Trout will someday make. I've watched the NBA for a very long time now, and I've noted that the difference between champions and also-rans is hair-thin. We're seeing that once again in this playoff run by the Lakers. They aren't significantly more talented than their opponents. They just make fewer dumb plays at critical moments.
Believe it or not, I love Travis Outlaw. True, I've complained about his lack of toughness & physicality. But I love his sweet, laid back personality, his magic jumpshot, and his ability to leap out of the gym. I realize that he's a glue guy in terms of team chemistry, and that he's won regular season games for the Blazers--quite a few of them in fact. But in the playoffs, every flaw in your team becomes magnified, and championship teams simply don't have players who consistently make dumb plays.
After Nelson's gaffe, Jeff Van Gundy was beside himself. He said the lack of basketball IQ on the part of some NBA players never ceases to amaze him. He asked how you can not be aware of the time & score? He said, "I'd like to know what was going through Nelson's mind on that play."
Please, KP, don't let us hear those words someday about a Blazer player at the critical juncture of a Finals appearance. Let it be the OTHER team that makes the boneheaded plays. Don't give Trout away. But if you can get real value for him, pull the trigger. (And if Trout proves me wrong someday and wins a championship with someone else, I'll take the blame. Because we all know that you base your decisions on BE fanposts.)
Postscript: I didn't expect a lot of agreement on this Fanpost, and I didn't receive it. But now, should my premonition come true someday, I'll have the faint pleasure of writing an "I told you so" Fanpost. Kinda like the Fanpost I wrote after the young Blazers proved to lack the necessary toughness & physicality to pass their first playoff test.