Great Win. Now What?
First the great new. The Trail Blazers beat the Mavericks 85-81 in Dallas for their first victory in Big D in the last 11 tries. Simply a fantastic win, and it assures the team comes home from this difficult road trip no worse than 2-2. You could argue we've had more impressive road victories a third of the way through this season than we had all of last year. That's a sure-fire sign of a team growing up.
Now the terrible news. As you've certainly heard, Joel Przybilla went down in the first quarter Tuesday's game with a gruesome knee injury that was later revealed to be a ruptured right patella tendon and a patella dislocation. He is listed as out indefinitely, and I think it's fairly safe to assume he's done for the season. That's obvously terrible news for the Trail Blazers, but even worse news for Przybilla. No one works harder and gives more to the team than he does. It's a damn shame.
But as we saw tonight, all is certainly not lost. This team, led by Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, can beat any team on any night. The game against Houston when Greg Oden went down was exhibit A. Tuesday's win, which qualifies as more impressive, is exhibit B. As Nate McMillan often says, there is no quit in this team.
But now is the real test. The post-game glow of beating the Mavericks is sweet, but that will fade away before the plane touches down tonight in San Antonio. The "win it for Joel" mentality might have carried the Blazers through Tueday night's game, but it's not going to be all that helpful come Wednesday, or Christmas Day against the Nuggets, or any game after that. They'll have to learn how to win not only without Joel, but also without the emotional lift that, strangely enough, comes with seeing a player go down.