OK, our guys bloodied Phoenix's nose the other night. It was better than I even expected it would be, and I had ridiculously high expectations Sunday night for some reason (I could just feel it coming). We took care of business. Great win, time to move on.
Phoenix and the national media made the huge mistake of misunderestimating our Blazer squad the other night. While many in the national media are still doing so, I am certain we got Phoenix's full attention now. Does that even matter at this point? It certainly does to an extent, but I have spotted 5 encouraging signs that I think lead the Blazers to a Game 2 victory.
1. We did not actually have our best offensive outting. We missed a lot of shots we normally make. Take LaMarcus Aldridge, awesome game Sunday night, just imagine if he hits his usual percentage from 18-20'; we run away with that game. I am fairly confident he won't repeat that anomaly tonight.
2. Rebounding. Phoenix actually outperformed us here Sunday night. That will not happen again.
3. Confidence. This team was dangerous going into Sunday nights game because of their mental toughness garnered by going through the injury crucible like they have this season. Sunday nights victory only added another element to that mental toughness and that is confidence. Last season Houston took our confidence away. While I don't think we took Phoenix's confidence away, we did put a dent in their pride. That dent with our increased confidence and our existing mental toughness might just be the difference tonight.
4. Miller>Nash. Steve Nash is a fantastic offensive weapon, but the plan worked on him the other night. Nash started on Rudy Fernandez, Rudy ran him all over the floor. He switched to Andre Miller and got abused by Andre. The Suns have no answer for Miller defensively, none. On the other end Nash was held in relative check by Miller, Nicolas Batum, Martell Webster, Marcus Camby, and Jerryd Bayless at varying times. Sure he still scored and got some good assists, but Nash is the engine and we had 5 guys play him well and Phoenix's offense got stuck on neutral as a result. Miller throttled up and Phoenix had no brakes to even slow him down a little. I imagine they will double more, good, just give Aldridge more room to operate and generate better rhythm shots for our sharp shooters.
5. Phoenix has taken exactly the wrong lesson away from Game 1. Amare Stoudamire said we just need to run more, Stopping a running offense is right in our wheelhouse defensively. Teams that give us trouble defensively do so by running an effective half court offense featuring multiple interior cutters to the hoop. Louis Amundson demonstrated that on Sunday in fact. If Phoenix's main lesson from the other night is they need to run more, we win. If the main lesson they took away was get more cutters moving toward the rim in the half court, well, I think we still win, but they have a better shot at us.
Once again I am pumped for this game. Not many are giving us a chance to take Game 2. We all know better, right?
Let's get out there and push Phoenix around and get this game.