Game 5 Pregame Notes
Some quick hitters from pregame before I find out how well the kitchen staff at US Airway's Arena cooks pork chops.
BAYLESS STARTS, ROY REGULATED
Jerryd Bayless, as somewhat expected, will start tonight, with Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez coming off the bench. Nate McMillan said that they're shooting to play Roy around 30 minutes tonight and that it's a bit easier to regulate Roy's minutes off the bench. But if push comes to shove and the game is tight late, Roy will be in the game, regardless of how many minutes he has already played.
Sticking with Bayless has been easier considering his play as of late, which has been improved since the start of the playoffs (more on that tonight, probably). It's not as if he's doing anything he wasn't doing before; he just doing those things a bit better than he was at the end of the regular season.
"He's done a good job of being aggressive and getting to the basket," said McMillan. "He's been a guy who, when we've lost players, he's been able to fill in and do some good things for us, providing scoring, defensively bringing scrappiness and some energy, some fire to the lineup. In this series he's been pretty good getting to the basket and not settling for the jump shot."
ALDRIDGE IN POSITION
McMillan also singled out LaMarcus Aldridge as a key to Portland's offense in Game 4. According to McMillan, the Blazers did a much better job in Game 4 in regards to fighting for position, with Aldridge being the beneficiary of that extra effort.
"I thought our guys worked harder to get the ball," said McMillan. "I thought that the two games that (Phoenix) won, they just imposed their will on us. They got into the passing lanes and were aggressive and we kind of gave into that as opposed to getting into your spots and not being denied your spots, not being denied your post position, being the aggressor. I thought (Aldridge) worked harder to get the ball. We did a better job of getting the ball. He was patient with their double teams. They mix up their defense as far as guys who were guarding him and the traps they were sending to him. He's got to continue to do that, be patient and take what the defense gives him."
The topic of the day in the Trail Blazers blogosphere (or should I say, "blogos-FEAR. Hi-yo!) seemed to focus a lot on officiating, specifically whether or not Amare Stoudemire is out to inflict damage on one second-year small forward of French lineage. McMillan didn't address that directly, but did answer a question about his approach to dealing with officials.
"There are times where you have to make a point and then there's a time when it doesn't make a difference," said McMillan. "You can whine or whatever you want to call it. I just pick my moments. You know that it's going to be an emotional time, physical play out on the floor and there are going to be swings. It's going to be important that you be able to keep your head and get to the next play, if that happens."
My take: Some coaches pick their moments a bit more carefully than others.
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