I just want to remind everyone: Its the pre-season. Don't let any scores or wins/losses worry you. Some of these games have been bench slugfests for both us and our opponents and even dropping two to the Jazz shouldn't worry a soul. If our offense is a little off kilter its because we aren't really running plays for any of our good players. Actually, we aren't really running plays at all because we don't want to telegraph our playbook. This is mostly about getting people like BRoy and Miller (who looks a lot sharper going into this season than last) into game rhythm and giving people like Cunningham and Matthews a chance to strut their stuff. The team looks good and if you want to compare our games, which have all been competitive, with the Thunder's unfortunate 96-116 loss to the Grizzlies of all teams, I think you should feel satisfied with our games so far. I doubt we would drop a game, much less get routed, to the Grizzlies, even in the pre-season.
We're playing our B and C string players out the wazoo and still playing competitive games. Don't worry. Do you think Roy will only score 4 points in our first regular season game against the Suns? He wasn't able to play well in the playoffs and for a season opener, in the Rose Garden, I expect some hard play from Roy that game.
Now that I've hyped a little bit I have to say that we might not do as well as we hope this season. I know we all want everything to gel and see some incredible basketball but it just might not be in the cards this season. The main thing is that we are, potentially, a contender. There aren't too many teams that could have taken the hits we took last season and made it to 50 wins. Every year, including this season, is a chance at a ring. All you get at the level of play in the NBA is a chance. Be glad we have a team that we can dream about.
In terms of specific player observations I have these notes:
Matthews is a dream come true, another good defender who can shoot the three and handle the ball a little bit. I wouldn't be surprised to see him running the point off the bench sometimes. I think one of the overlooked advantages of our own "crisis at the point" is how many people on the team can bring the ball up the floor. This leads to some fast break opportunities since so many people can run with the ball in their hands. It also allows us to have a multi-faceted attack. If you're thinking of Miller being our point and Roy brings the ball up the court, suddenly a lightning pass from Roy to Miller, cutting backdoor and lays it in! I know you can see it too.
Batum looks great. I was really impressed with Batum during the FIBA championship and I like his willingness to shoot the ball and put it on the deck to create space for himself. Him being healthy should be good for several wins until other teams really start to watch tape of him and commit to helping on him when he has the ball. This, of course, will just free up players like Roy and Aldridge or, off the bench, Fernandez and Bayless (I doubt we'll see too much of Batum and Matthews in the game at the same time).
Fernandez! The Spanish sensation is on fire in the pre-season. Lets just ride it out and hope that maybe a slightly less happy Rudy just takes out his frustrations on the court by shooting 60% from three point land this season. I know it won't happen but this guy is on fire right now and if he plays this well he might be promoted to being the go to guy when Brandon is not in the game. Like Roy he can handle the ball ( though not as well), pass well (a highly underrated part of Rudy's game), and shoot a good trey ball.
Since the game's haven't been televised its hard to read too much into things but players who should be getting ready instead of competing (Roy, Miller) have been taking it easy and people who have worked on their game over the summer (Aldridge, Cunningham, Batum) are stepping up and trying new things and players who should be adjusting to the system and getting comfortable (Matthews, Bayless, Fernandez) seem to be doing exactly that.
Lets Go Blazers!!!