The Lakers and the Nuggets have multiple tough and talented inside presences. These two teams make for unfavorable match-ups, home court disadvantages, and probable elimination. Both of these teams would have an easier time scoring against the Blazers than the Blazers would have against them. And The Jazz would also present serious issues. These three teams are better balanced than Portland. They are not jump shooting teams, although they do shoot a high percentage from deep because they set themselves up, playing from inside out. The Blazers would likely elect to close the lane and make them beat them from outside, which they would oblige, taking and making their open looks. Anything else would be a beautiful surprise, kind of like that hockey game back in 1980.
It is on the offensive end, however, where their most serious of the problems arise. The Blazers, too many of them anyway, make their respective livings from the perimeter. Should their opponent tighten up their perimeter defense, only Brandon Roy is above average at creating off the dribble. The book on Andre is to let him shoot, and the book is right. Sure, he put 52 on Dallas, and there was that DUNK against Denver, but these weren't performances the Blazers can bank on. He is an asset, and as the season progressed, he has clearly exceeded expectation, but one must temper any thought that he is more than he is. 13 years and never an all star. He was the Blazers' plan C. These are simply the facts. He can't shoot. Batum, on the other hand, is making his shots and his %'s are joyous, but will he play loose in the playoffs? It's a lot to ask, especially as the games wear on. Camby is not any part of the offensive game plan and that is perhaps for the best. LaMarcus' problems have been well documented. He's been blogged and flogged, and it would be remarkable for him to suddenly transform into a 4 quarter force, or muscle down low. He's a terrific player, a great yin to Oden's yang, but he doesn't provide, that which is so badly needed.
Portland's greatest asset, Brandon Roy, should be equalized in the form of Kobe, Chauncy, and Deron.
When the Blazers played, and barely beat, the Warriors the other night, I though that Portland was exposed. Actually, the idea occurred that Portland would look like Golden State in a match up against the Nuggets. Small ball just ain't gonna get it done in a series, and that's what the Blazers have been playing on offense lately. They are scoring the basketball, which is nice to see, but they've made this recent move against inferior competition. It looked like they were ready to graduate prior to their last game in Denver, but that went poorly. There are some good teams coming up on the schedule, so we'll soon see whether or not they're ready to be a better team than they've been this season.
Bottom line: The Blazers need to position themselves for a Dallas, OKC, or Phoenix, first round match up, and there's nary a cupcake on that list. They're in a spot, because it's pretty late, really. Too many injuries. Too many losses. And not enough Oden, unless you're into his reality show. How about this one?