Here's a mid-week link dump because I know you're spending all afternoon staring at your computer screen, imagining defensive schemes for slowing down LeBron. Let me guess, your plans involve Batum gaining 50 pounds before game time. Am I right?
As you read yesterday,TrueHoop has a new blog network. Sweet. Here's the first installment of Blogfather's network recap: "The Shootaround." There's even a fancy box around it. Looks awesome.
As part of its TrueHoopage, Hardwood Paroxysm launched with a new look yesterday as well. And it's really nice.
My man Ryan McNeill at Hoops Addict also had a chance to talk with Clyde last week. -1 for using a picture of Clyde in a Rockets uniform.
Brother Wendell sent over this story about Portland's first professional basketball team: the Portland Indians. It's a big PDF file so be prepared for that.
Coup from Rip City Project has a long piece on Greg Oden.
There will be more two point, three rebound performances this year, but they will become less and less frequent until, eventually, they evaporate into the vast ether of rookie-year lessons.
Jason Quick goes FBI on Nate McMillan and LaMarcus Aldridge, eavesdropping on another one of their conversations.
Aldridge was extended on his couch, his feet outstretched on an ottoman, when he looked at who was calling.
PRIVATE NUMBER, the phone flashed.
"That can mean one of two people," Aldridge said. "Jay Jensen or Coach."
I guess the real question here is: why does trainer Jay Jensen need a private number? Is he afraid some ice packs from his past are going to track him down and exact revenge?
Sean Meagher has some video from yesterday's practice. Watch the Martell one and see if you agree with me that Nate was being a little bit dodgy.
Dwight Jaynes has a look at tonight's big game.
Cleveland does everything well, including play defense. This is not the game for Portland to be firing random jump shots from all over the place. Penetration and post play are key.
Ryan White summarizes the great pick and roll debate going on between Dwight and JQ right now.
There is nothing more important in the history of the universe than pick and roll defense. You know this, of course. Everyone knows it. It is impossible to overstate the correlation between good pick and roll defense and general happiness.
And not just the happiness of the basketball team or the basketball fan, but the happiness of society in general. When the Trail Blazers play good pick and roll defense, children in Saskatoon smile.
There's no debate: it needs to improve.
Brian Hendrickson has an update on Rudy's foot.
But Fernandez, who missed last week's loss to Philadelphia because of the injury, said he does not expect the foot to be a problem -- particularly since he has three weeks to let it heal.
Mike Barrett talked about what he saw from Greg on Monday night.
After the game, Greg talked about changes he's made in his approach to defense. Lately the early fouls he's been getting have been almost silly fouls, unnecessary fouls. But, learning to discriminate, what shots to go after, what plays to let pass, and where to be on the floor, comes with experience. The best teacher the Blazers have for Oden in this department? It's Joel Przybilla. And, Oden has been paying attention.
ESPN's Keith Lipscomb looks at Greg Oden's fantasy impact.
Bust A Bucket gives out midseason grades.
LowPosts.com calls Michael Holton a "suspected nevernude." You should probably go read that.
Trail Post mashes up the Blazers and the TV show "Lost." I don't watch that show so I don't know what's going on there.
John Canzano joins Team Bayless.
-- Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org)