Mar 09

First Is The Worst

By caseyholdahl Posted in: Blazers, Celtics, geraldwallace, NicolasBatum, Timberwolves

It's often said that it's not how you start, it's how you finish. And while it's true that no team in the NBA has ever beaten another simply by winning the first quarter, you hardly put yourself in a position to finish strong when you're spending the final three quarters of a game climbing out of a hole you dug for yourself in the first.

That's been the case for the Trail Blazers recently, especially in the last month. On the season, Portland averages the exact same amount of points (24.8) as their opponents in the first quarter. Not the best option, but you can live with it. But in the last 14 games, the numbers have trended in the wrong direction, with opponents scoring 27.2 points in the first to 24.9 points for the Trail Blazers. And keep in mind, two of those games were against the Hornets and one against a shorthanded Spurs team. Take those out, and the numbers are even worse.

What's worse, Portland's last 14 opponents have shot a combined 50 percent from the field in the first quarter. That percentage isn't all that different from what you'd see during the pregame layup line.

The last two games against the Timberwolves have highlighted the issue. In the March 3 game at the Rose Garden, Portland allowed Minnesota to put up 40 in the first quarter. There was little improvement March 7 in Minneapolis, with the Timberwolves, led by Kevin Love, getting 37 first quarter points to Portland's 31.

Those early deficits are starting to take a toll, in the win/loss column (the Trail Blazers are 6-13 when trailing after the first quarter overall and 2-8 in such instances on the road) and on the psyche of a team struggling to find something consistency in the second half of the season.

"Right now I feel like we ain't doing nothing right," said Gerald Wallace when asked out the team's struggles in the first quarter. "It just seems like everything is going bad for us. It seems like, it kind of feels like we're going out there, we get two fastbreak points or whatever and all sudden we're down 10… It's like we've got a monkey on our back we can't shake."

It's hard to pinpoint what is causing Portland's poor starts. The obvious answer is defense, specifically from the perimeter, but there's no reason why the schemes that work relatively well in the last three quarters can't work just as well in the first. In fact, you would imagine that the starting lineup, which features four long-limbed defenders, would be Portland's best unit. For whatever reason, that hasn't been the case.

"We wait to get punched to punch back," said Nicolas Batum. We have to punch first.

"We've got to want it more. The other teams wanted it more than us. That's on us, our team. We need to show it. We say the same thing every time. We've got to be tired of saying the same thing and react. That's on the court. We've got to react, and quickly."

If not, the Trail Blazers' season is going to be finished much sooner than anyone would like.


  1. Hey Casey; great stuff.

    More or less Batum is saying if we are going to talk the talk we have to walk the walk, or talk is cheap, so lets get expensive.

    I think we try to pace ourselves to much because of the crammed games. It is true we are in a marathon not a sprint, but if you get to far behind by pacing yourself to slow then the results are the same.

    You know that Kassandra preaches playing for forty-eight minutes instead of two or three. If we play 4- 30 pt quarters that would put lots of pressure on opponents to close big.

    by Hg on 3/9/2012 8:16 AM
  2. "We wait to get punched to punch back," said Nicolas Batum. We have to punch first."

    That pretty much sums it all up right there.

    by DHawes22 on 3/9/2012 10:46 AM
  3. @DHawes22, Not if they have a bigger punch. Don't you remember give it your best shot--then afterwords say is that all you got.

    What we have to do is learn to counter punch. If they throw the first punch, make them pay for it.

    The first thing though is to play our game and dictate the game to them not letting them dictate to us. Nevertheless, we have to be reactive as well as proactive.

    by Hg on 3/9/2012 10:59 AM
  4. My point being, we need to be the ones punching first, regardless of how big or small that punch is. The mindset of the team seems to be to react to what the opposition is doing instead of being proactive in forcing our own initiative upon them. Be the aggressors, set the tempo, and let them know we aren't going to back down.

    by DHawes22 on 3/9/2012 12:03 PM

    by sarahhecht on 3/9/2012 12:04 PM
  6. I think the most important thing to know, how to punch, not just trying to punch!!
    I was just suffering, watching last couple of games. Layups, jumpshots, tips...did not falls... than dunk it hard, attack the rim! Fight for at least the penality shots! One of our annoying thing is the 2-on-1 (or 3-on1!) situations! (just remember the game against the Kings, where Isias Thomas blocked JCross, and that was the second bad 2-on-1 situations in a minute!). Disappointing! We are not go for rebounds, and not blocking out the opponents! Lazy passes, silly turnovers! Sorry for that, but I'm very disappointed. I'm a true fan, I watched all of our games (and of course I will), but I'd like to celebrate a victory some times. In the beginning of the season we're tipping, how much victory we will have... The future was shiny... now it's dark! I hope, just I'm a bit pessimistic! Let'go Blasers! Let'go!

    by Silent Fan on 3/9/2012 1:40 PM
  7. What I see is a team that's built to run and a coach that won't let them. Just sayin'. Let's hope we lose enough games to get a good draft pick and a coaching philosophy that allows fast breaks. But that all starts with team defense and there hasn't been any lately. Why has this group stopped playing as a team? Ask the coach???? Some people need encouragement, not calling out. Nate even looks beat and discouraged on the sidelines. Way to hang in there with a discouraged coach, Allen. And....why isn't it time to rebuild? What have we got to lose? Another game? We're doing that already. Let's go get some players that can really shoot. Speaking of which, Babbit looked really good last night. And as long as we're going to loose anyway, why can't the rookies play more. At least they made the score look better last night. Hey, the starters couldn't do it. Of course Boston had taken their starters out, but even their reserves made our starters all look like third stringers. Give the rookies a game and let's see what they will do with it. At least they're all hungry to play.

    by pioneerfan on 3/10/2012 7:53 AM
  8. Pioneerfan: It isn't Nate that doesn't want an uptempo game, Felton gets winded to fast and slows the ball down. We have completely floundered on fast breaks as if we were grade schoolers. We couldn't even make a lay-up for a long time. Plus we still have problems with that.
    I am not saying blame doesn't lay on the coach, but his players is the ones that play the game.

    I do agree on giving the bench more time in a blow-out; especially on the first night of a back to back. Look at the bright side, the whole team should be in great shape to play 48 minutes tonight because they didn't exert any energy last night.

    by Hg on 3/10/2012 8:18 AM
  9. Miss Sarah: our punch wasn't hard enough.

    by Hg on 3/10/2012 8:19 AM
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