Nov 18

A Dream You Dream Together Is A Reality

By caseyholdahl Posted in: Nuggets, Blazers, NicolasBatum
Play tough.
Play as one.
Play for all of us.

Almost everyone in the NBA wants to get shots, and more often than not, problems in the locker room arise when a player feels like he isn't getting his fair share.

But when it comes to defense, most guys in the league are happy to let someone else take on the unglamorous task of locking up the opposing team's best player. There are those who relish the opportunity to take on the toughest defensive assignment, both they're vastly outnumbered by those who would rather reserve their energy for the offensive end.

Nicolas Batum has been one of those defense first guys through his first three seasons in the NBA, during which he's been Nate McMillan's go-to defender. But Thursday night, McMillan opted to put Wesley Matthews, who had already been charged with replacing Brandon Roy's scoring in the starting lineup, on one of the leagues most dynamic scorers in Carmelo Anthony. McMillan noted pregame that Batum had "problems" matching Anthony's physicality in previous matchups, which was why Brandon Roy checked Anthony in the previous game against Denver and why he had decided to give the job to Matthews this time around.

For Batum, that decision might have been the equivalent of a volume shooter having his number of touches cut in half, but the Frenchman knew he would still get a crack at Carmelo, even if he wouldn't get the honor of checking one of the premier offensive player in the NBA right off the bat.

"I talked with Dre a little bit about that," said Batum of not initially checking Anthony. "He say 'I think that's a good situation because you can be in foul trouble in the first quarter (guarding Anthony)'.  Wes got a foul, I go on Carmelo, try to deny him, grab him because I can stop him. I know I can stop him. I show tonight that I can."

Though Batum didn't do it alone, by his own admission. And in retrospect, the ability of Matthews and Batum to share the burden that is slowing down Carmelo Anthony left both players with enough energy to get involved on the offensive end, which further resulted in tiring Denver's best player.

"We try to make to make it hard on offense, but to make him play defense," said Batum. "He don't want to play defense, so try to make him tired playing defense. And on offense, try to frustrate."

Matthews and Batum accomplished both, scoring 20 and 14 points, respectively, while holding Anthony to 18 points of 5 of 15 shooting, with both of those statistics being well below his season averages. Batum also drew three of Anthony's six fouls, which might have determined the outcome more than any other facet. The Nuggets are 1-10 all-time with Anthony fouls out, as he did Thursday night.

"It helps," said Matthews of having two above average wing defenders. "I think it frustrates other players too, to have two different types of defenders and playing styles thrown at you. You can't get accustomed to one person.

"Anybody is going to get frustrated when you've got the emphasis on him. "We were really trying to take him out of his game and minimize what he wants to do."

While taking Anthony out of what he wanted to do, both Matthews and Batum got to share the toughest defensive assignment while still getting buckets, something both wanted to do.

For Batum-as-defensive-specialist, getting bumped from the leadoff assignment on Anthony could have been considered a demotion, but he was savvy enough to realize sharing the load actually made him a better defender and gave the team a much better chance of winning.

"Me and Wes can do a pretty good job on him and that's what we did," said Batum. "He was 5 for 15. One time he's got Wes, then he's got me. He was tired because he can't go nowhere. Wes is physical, he's small. Me, I'm long, athletic so we're different but we can both stop him. That's what we did tonight."


  1. Casey:

    This is one of the best blogs I have read in a long time. We mostly get stats: Very little time do we actually get the players view of what the task of the night is. Playing together to stop Anthony, scoring together, because of our need for points and to war out Anthony, and battling the adversity of their star player together and Battling the down feeling of knowing a fellow teammate is going through surgery and needs not only the support of all the team and fan's, but knowing that there is also a game to play first.

    The sharing of the load with those two warriors has caught hold for the rest of the team. The Veterans of Camby and Dre, the Burdon of taking some of the offensive load by LMA with BRoy out, down to the cheer leading of young Mills, was a bunch of wonderful kids pulling together in a tough division game to get a victory.

    This team has banded together to support Greg, to help him recognize he still has the potential to be a BB player, to encourage him to once again to fight the odds and stay with him to become part of the team again. The same as they did with Rudy, to make him feel more of a part of the team. It may not change a thing in the end, but I for one am not giving up on Greg as some of my fellow posters on various blogs has.

    It has been said to cut our losses, abandon Greg and move on. We moved on after his first injury, we are used to playing without him. If he can make it back and just get a few rebounds a game, is far better then throwing him away, because of a bunch of rotten brakes. Besides, what can it hurt to get encouragement from the fans and teammates?

    With the knowledge that the front office is behind him and offering him a qualifying offer, with the team mates encouraging him to rehab one more time, and if enough fan's abandon the idea of win at all cost and s--- can the bum and move on gets the team effort of supporting Greg, I think he will make it.

    I know this is about Batum and Matthews, but the title of a dream you dream together becomes a reality goes all the way to BRoy, Williams, Pendy and Greg fighting their body to reach a dream. We need to as the Blazer nation, band together to support our roster of injured players, not just on the individual note, but support to get them healthy and back on the team. That is what fandom is really about, not we have to win at all cost syndrome.

    Sorry about the rant Casey, This is one of your better blogs. It just got me emotionally wound up. Therefore it is your fault LOL.


    by magnumpi on 11/19/2010 4:42 AM
  2. I have to agree with magnumpi. One of your best posts Casey.

    by Leash23 on 11/19/2010 8:26 AM
  3. i alwyas enjoy your insight casey :) great insight into the players point of view.

    by Cristi on 11/19/2010 10:27 AM
  4. Another great post Casey! Love the insight your pieces give us as fans. As we say in our language, shukria (Thank you) :-)

    by Anees on 11/19/2010 10:43 AM
  5. great blog! I love having both Nic and Wesley to play defense at a high level- I think it rubs off on the rest of the team as well. Rudy has been playing better defense this year as well.

    by RedRudy5 on 11/19/2010 4:38 PM
  6. Be the dream. Live it, play it, come together. Let's give our support to BRoy, Oden, Pryz, and all the guys. DO IT, and RIP CITY!

    by Olallie on 11/20/2010 12:29 AM
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