The Golden State Warriors loosely waltzed into the Rose Garden and drop-kicked the Portland Trail Blazers, 108-87, dealing the home team its largest margin of defeat (21 points) at the Rose Garden this season.
The Blazers shot 3-21 from three-point land tonight and guess what? Coach Nate McMillan bemoaned his team's inability to make shots after the game. Stop me if you've heard this before: "Tonight was bad. It was just one of those nights where we started off bad. Six turnovers in the first quarter which is one of the things you cannot do against this team. Shooting never came around. A bad game. One of those games where you burn the tape and move on."
"Tonight was one of our worst nights shooting," Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge added. "A lot of open looks, guys had a lot of open shots and we just didn't make them tonight. Just one of those nights."
Let me throw a few numbers and a chart at you. Stick with me because this is going to have playoff implications.
The Blazers have played 78 games this season. In 20 of those games, they have shot 25% or less from the three-point line. In 19 of those 20 brickfests, the Blazers attempted at least 12 or more three-pointers as a team. In the twenty games, the Blazers finished 5-15.
To summarize: In one out of every four games they've played this season, the Blazers have made no more than one out of every four three-pointers that they attempted. Despite being that ice-cold, they have continued to bomb away without remorse, leading to losses in 75% of those games.
To illustrate the valleys, take a look at this chart which shows Portland's season progressing from left to right. The team's collective three-point percentage is represented by the blue line. The league's average three point percentage (35.9%) in represented in red to serve as a reference point.
See all those data points well below the equator? That's McMillan's bonfire growing larger and larger and larger until headbands and/or eyebrows are being singed.
This is a problem. Playoff series last between four and seven games. The Blazers will either face the sixth, ninth or tenth best defense from an efficiency standpoint. They will face either the best coach in the league, the winningest coach in the league or a top 10 coach in the league. They will, no matter who they draw, face a team that places a major emphasis on scouting.
They're entering that series -- against either the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs or Dallas Mavericks -- with a giant, glaring weakness with no known remedy. This is the team this year, a group that can look anywhere from solid to spectacular on three out of four night but looks absolutely atrocious on the fourth, leaving their coach speechless and without the ability to explain what happened.
It all begs an uncomfortable but necessary question: how many times will McMillan be left speechless in late-April?
An extremely disengaged Roy took responsibility afterwards. "I thought we got off to a slow start and then we came off the bench and me and Rudy didn't do much tonight to help us," Roy admitted.
Roy and Fernandez's combined 3-20 made an ugly game worse but it wasn't solely their responsibility. The Blazers were unable to exploit their backcourt size advantage -- a topic McMillan didn't want to touch in any detail -- and Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum combined to shoot 2-11 from deep on the same night they combined to shoot 11-14 on two-pointers. "I think we got caught up in jump shooting a little bit," Andre Miller said, delivering a hefty understatement.
To this point, everything's been about Portland's offense, which was bad. The defense wasn't much better, as the Warriors got pretty much anything they wanted and never bothered to seriously venture outside their top three guys: Lee, Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. The trio combined for 87 of Golden State's 108 points and they did it shooting a combined 34-57. The fun-and-gun Warriors play well without any weight on their shoulders and they play even better when the team defense and alertness of their opponents is lacking.
"We've got to come to play or we can get our butt kicked," Roy said.
Random Game Notes
- Blazers center Marcus Camby went down early in the game with a "neck strain" and didn't return. Blazers coach Nate McMillan called it "whiplash" and said he didn't think it would be anything serious. Andre Miller said afterwards that Camby would be fine.
- The Blazers clinched a playoff spot thanks to a Houston Rockets loss. Here's the updated playoff table through Tuesday.
- Playoff tickets are on sale starting April 15. Details here.
- Matt Calkins of The Columbian has an awesome mailbag.
- It got buried in the post-game onslaught, but Storyteller wrote an excellent survey of the labor negotiations to date.
- Brandon Roy selected the pre-game warm-up music: "On My Level" by Wiz Khalifa. Not sure which level that is right now. Lower lobby? Radioactivity proof underground bunker?
- Running back Steven Jackson was in attendance. So was Meadowlark Lemon.
Nate McMillan's Post-Game Comments
Tonight was bad. It was just one of those nights where we started off bad. Six turnovers in the first quarter which is one of the things you cannot do against this team. Shooting never came around. A bad game. One of those games where you burn the tape and move on.
How do you explain that second half?
3-21 from the three-point line. We didn't turn the ball over the second half. They were just -- I thought we looked a little tired the whole game. Just not reacting. We looked a little winded early in the first quarter and they pretty much had their rhythm, their tempo. It was one of those games we can't explain that, I can't explain it.
Did team find out they were in playoffs at halftime?
We haven't talked about that.
Basically snapped his neck back. Whiplash. We don't think it's anything serious but I kept him out the rest of the game.
Read into this loss?
It's a loss. We played bad. We've played better. We've been doing some good things and tonight was one of those nights that it was bad. Simple as that. Didn't play well. They came out -- Monta Ellis was Monta Ellis, pretty much couldn't stop him. But we never established that we could execute an offense tonight or defensively we could stop them.
Message to the team
What I just told you. This is one of those games. We've got to put this behind us and get ourselves ready for Utah.
No posting up small guards with Miller?
Uh ... We just didn't execute.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter