mikebarrett

Oct 27

Four-Game Trip Starts in LA

By mikebarrett
There was certainly a lot to like about opening night at the Rose Garden on Tuesday.  The Trail Blazers won, Brandon Roy put to bed any thoughts that his subpar preseason would lead to a slow start to the regular season, Nicolas Batum didn't get lost in the shuffle and established himself, and they got a complete effort from the second unit.

There was a lot more to like about the game than just those things, of course.  Most importantly, we didn't see a sterling performance by the Blazers and they still won by 14 points, beating the Suns 106-92.  As you probably know if you watched it, the game was a lot closer than that final score would indicate.  The Suns actually led by six points going into the fourth quarter.

You won't see the Blazers end games very often this season on an 18-1 run, but that's what happened late in this one, and Portland showed the ability to step on the gas and flex some muscle. 

Roy ended up with 24 points, playing the poinit-guard spot at times, and also finished with six assists.  He was sharp, his long-range shot was on the mark, and he had that extra burst of speed that we didn't see much in the exhibition season. 

Batum showed why many have predicted that this could be a breakout season for him.  He had 19 points, 11 rebounds, and was a big reason why the Blazers were able to overwhelm the Suns late in the game.  In the first half, when the Blazers went deep into the bench, we shared the concern on our broadcast that this could be another of those cases when the team almost forgets about Batum.  So, it was great to see him take things upon himself to earn the second-half minutes and be in the game during crunch time.

Marcus Camby also had a double-double, with 13 points and 10 rebounds.  He played 30 minutes, which is just about right for him, and it's what he can expect going forward until help arrives in the forms of Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla.

Wesley Matthews had already shown everyone that he'll be an impact player on this team, and his aggressiveness was evident in this contest as he scored 13 points and grabbed 6 rebounds off the bench.

Some have expressed concern about LaMarcus Aldridge only scoring 8 points, but it wasn't an issue in my eyes.  Phoenix clearly felt its best chance to win would be to take the ball completely out of his hands.  We saw this in the playoffs last year as well.  They threw immediate double teams at him, and he faced a swarm of defenders each time he touched it.  They weren't about to let him go one on one with anyone they had, simply because they wouldn't have had anyone to guard him.  

Rookie Armon Johnson's numbers don't leap off the box score, but I thought he had a huge impact on this game.  If you were concerned that trading Jerryd Bayless would leave Portland thin at the point-guard spot, you probably aren't too worried now.  You can see why we've been saying that Johnson became a favorite of Nate McMillan's from the first day of training camp.  He has a chance to be very, very good.  Mike Rice even called him "the point guard of the future" during the broadcast. 

It's always great to win your first game, but because of the way the early schedule sets up for the Blazers, getting last night's game was especially vital.  We're in Los Angeles now and take on the Clippers tonight.  Portland was the best team in the league last season at handling the second nights of back-to-back situations, and will be tested here in the second game of the regular season.  What makes things tougher is that we will fly to New York tomorrow, and then take on the Knicks, Chicago Bulls, and Milwaukee Bucks before coming back home.

What were you most excited about on opening night.  What were you greatest concerns?  And, what are you predictions for this road trip, now that you've seen the Blazers in the regular season?

Talk to you later.


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20 Comments

  1. "What were you most excited about on opening night. What were you greatest concerns? And, what are you predictions for this road trip, now that you've seen the Blazers in the regular season?"

    Let's make it simple.

    I was excited about winning, and I'm glad that they chose a rap song I like to open the season (I normally hate rap). Also excited to see the Blazers put on a great show and beat Hedo and the Suns.

    I am concerned about getting too excited however. Last season I thought was "the year", this season we could suffer the same injuries. Whenever an important player is in the game there is always a spot in the back of my head that is concerned for their health. I'm also concerned about overrating players. We all saw why Nate loves Armon, but consistency is a key, and we can't draw conclusions from one or two games (same with the Heat losing).

    I expect the Blazers to sweep the Road Trip. We are far better than every team we are going against. I understand there's always that off night and always that stamina issue from road trips, but I thought Nate did a great job of balancing minutes throughout the game. No one should be tired except maybe Camby who logged 30 minutes.

    by Herr on 10/27/2010 10:48 AM
  2. Simply put, I was really excited about Matthews and Johnson. The way they played and attacked the basket was awesome. I like aggressive players who can create off the dribble and that they can do! See with Bayless, he would be aggressive but then he would get stuck in the timber which resulted in bad passes or blocked shots and this happened alot in my eyes. I did like Bayless but never thought he was a perfect fit for this team. Now I feel like we have the right players in place and it is just a matter of time to have them all gel together. I was also excited for the fact that we won the game with the Suns taking Aldridge out of his game. That show the other players were stepping up and not just standing around waiting for ONE person to make a play. I know...still too early to tell, but that game sure showed that the Blazers are going to be a very dangerous team this year.

    peace out,
    daddy

    by daddylogan on 10/27/2010 11:08 AM
  3. Dave at Blazers Edge lauds the complimentary side of the bench "(as opposed to the "try to outdo them and take their spot" theory the bench has been operating under previously)". I couldn't agree more.

    This is going to be a wonderful season, and Rice can eat his prediction for breakfast during round 2 of the playoffs.

    by 500Dogs on 10/27/2010 11:08 AM
  4. A shout out for Rudy who came out with the flash and spark he is capable of instead of moping about minutes and not being traded. Thank you Rudy you are needed and a special asset for this team.

    by dguyer on 10/27/2010 12:10 PM
  5. Hey Mike, thanks for the post.

    I was exciting to hear how AJ and Wesley would do (pleasant results there) and also, wanted and/or expected Nic to do to well (19 and 11, need I say more?). Since I can't watch the games, I was concerned when I first saw the 8 points on LMA's line, but then one of my fellow fans on the message boards told me about how he was double-teamed and taken out of the offense, so like you say, nothing to worry about. I do hope that he gets to the hoop more than he did last year though. I love the jumper, but if he can bang inside more often, we should see 20 points and 10 rebounds more often, but we have Camby in there as well, so if they spread the love in the paint, that's all good by me. :-)

    Looking forward to seeing or rather hearing how we do tonight and of course, catching the highlights tomorrow morning.

    As always, peace from Prague :-)

    by Anees on 10/27/2010 1:10 PM
  6. Well, Mike,It is like having two starting units and NO ONE will be able to compete with our second unit.4-0 on the road trip.Yeh i said it ,i meant it and i'm here to represent it.

    A little work on /defensive rotations ,but i think our energy looks good so far.

    by DowntownVinnie on 10/27/2010 2:37 PM
  7. I have to say, it was nice to get a win last night.

    I agree with your comments on Lamarcus. I feel that he is important to this team, and last night he knew he was not needed as a huge scoring threat. I was pleased to see some better handling of the double teams by him, specifically a little better passes.

    Not a perfect game for anyone, but it is only game one. I am encouraged by the start but i am waiting to see how we handle other teams in the league. Can't wait to see this team develop a little more together on the court.

    Oh, and can't wait to hear more BATUM-SHAKALAKA!!!

    by ty2k4444 on 10/27/2010 2:42 PM
  8. okay ... to add to my comment on the last blog ...

    Nicolas impressed me. he came through under pressure which, to me, is a sign that he is growing and ready for a breakout year. he also scored as many points in the fourth quarter as the suns team.

    Armon was a spark plug on both ends of the court and i think he can have a great impact on the second unit. it's like the league said "welcome to the nba, Armonizer;" to which he responded "thanks, it's going to be great to have me here."

    LaMarcus did just fine. if teams want to double him, let them and he'll dish out to the open man.

    i was also impressed with the fact that portland has already won 2.1 percent of the games Rice predicted!

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 10/27/2010 3:12 PM
  9. First, an apology: Kassandra, I am sorry. I will stop teasing you about Wesley :)

    I was most excited that it was OPENING Night! And that Brandon was finally Brandon again.

    My greatest concerns were consistent defensive effort. It was concerning that we let the Suns turn it on in the 3rd. I was also really frustrated that we couldn't seem to shut JRich down! He seems to score at will on us and I HATE it.

    My predictions are the same. I think we lose at Chicago, and if not them, then at Milwaukee. If we lose tonight, it will be because we didn't take them seriously.

    I do think the game tonight will be much tougher and closer than many might be expecting. Gordon is a stud, Kaman is a stud, Davis should be good since it's the first game, and Griffin will be a powerhouse....until he gets into foul trouble. These guys can score, and have something in the middle, so it will be more of a test I think than Phoenix was. However, I do see LMA having a more productive game, as they won't double him and I think Wesley is going to blow them away :)

    Btw, Blake is doing very well with the Lakers, even hit a game-changing three late in the 4th, instantly endearing himself to Laker fans. Boston looked really good last night, even with Rondo being completely ineffective as a scoring option (he did have 17 ASSISTS though!). Miami, as I expected, is going to have some growing pains. Houston looked good I must say, definitely a team to be reckoned with. Gonna watch the Thunder/Bulls today (it's recording), so I will let you know what my impressions are of them tomorrow :)

    by EowynAmarie on 10/27/2010 4:44 PM
  10. I found this interesting. If we win tonights game, we will be first seed in the West

    by Herr on 10/27/2010 5:32 PM
  11. And first seed in the entire NBA

    by Herr on 10/27/2010 5:33 PM
  12. Herr: and that's the way it should be -- on both counts!

    EowynAmarie: thanks, but it's fine. i'm not too worried about it. i want to like the guy; i guess i'm just hard to convince on some things!

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 10/27/2010 6:02 PM
  13. Herr: and that's the way it should be -- on both counts!

    EowynAmarie: thanks, but it's fine. i'm not too worried about it. i want to like the guy; i guess i'm just hard to convince on some things!

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 10/27/2010 6:12 PM
  14. My major concern tonite is if our bench will do as well on the road. Last year a lot of times the bench didn't come through on the road, but I think with the addition of Wesley the bench will do well on the road as well.

    The Game is about to start so I'll wait until after the game to answer the questions you through out MB.

    Blazers 107
    Clippers 96

    GO BLAZERS!!!

    by mgb on 10/27/2010 6:21 PM
  15. Hi Mike and everyone. Man am I glad it's Blazer time again. I was impressed by a lot of things in last nights game. I think the 3 things that I was impressed the most about were 3 players. Armon, Nick and Wes. When Armon and Wes came in the energy level went up and it looked like hitting second gear. I love Nicks playing style and hustle in the first place, but It looked like they have some offensive sets for him this year. I am watching the game against the Clips as I type this out. Nice to see everyones names on here again. I haven't seen hg. I hope he is alright. He is a great Blazer fan. Man it is good to be back in season and I did get me some season tickets. It isn't all that expensive so if you live in the area you should check it out. Only 1500 for 2 seats in the 300 level. I know it is up high but there isn't a bad seat in the place. You can break that into payments as well. The team did well last night. Still rusty and sort of out of sync. It is early so it will come around. Did the Suns go back-wards or what. Not even the same team without Amare. All I can say is that it was a W and the new players look very good. Go Blazers

    by mfre111 on 10/27/2010 6:41 PM
  16. Like many I was impress with Wesley and Amronizer. Batum had a excellent game too and I hope we don't forget about him.

    Griffin sure is kicking. Just makes me wish we had Oden back.

    by mgb on 10/27/2010 6:45 PM
  17. I agree on that. Griffen wouldn't be getting all that with GO in there.

    by mfre111 on 10/27/2010 6:47 PM
  18. One other thing that impress me is that because of our depth we were able to wear the Suns down. While I was a little concern we let the Suns hang around, but heck it was our first game, what I did like was in the fourth when it mattered we still had the energy while the Suns obviously didn't especically Nash which had to carry the Suns to keep them in the game through three quarters.

    by mgb on 10/27/2010 6:53 PM
  19. game two is done; blazers win ...

    ... so Rice thinks we'll only win 45 more?

    by Kassandra on 10/27/2010 9:30 PM
  20. Good win! How many teams are 2-0 right now?

    I was concern about our bench and they did struggle.

    Pendergraph is on 'talking ball' right now.

    by mgb on 10/27/2010 9:50 PM
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