Trail Blazers @ Thunder Post-Game Thoughts: Game 74
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 03/29/2010 11:42 AM

     Post-Game Thoughts

    This game was a classic case of experience defeating youth. Portland was in the exact same position as OKC last season, full of young, exciting talent that has never been tested in playoff-type environments. What a difference our three veteran players can make as Camby, Andre, and Juwan always had an answer when the Thunder came calling. Only twice did Portland trail in the game and each time only by one point. Every single time Portland upped the lead to 6-10 points, OKC would storm back but could never fully grasp the momentum, thanks in large part to said veterans. In particular, Andre had at least three one man fast breaks, Camby hits a foul line jumper off the dribble late in the 3rd to thwart OKC's run, and Juwan floated in the last Blazer field goal to put us up five with under two minutes to play. In a game that saw Portland get outplayed statistically, the added experience is an intangible asset not seen in box scores.

    "It was a gut check for our guys," said Blazer coach Nate McMillan. "We have been talking about winning back-to-back games. Just a lot of things we threw out as challenges for our guys. The fact that Oklahoma City was right in front of us (in the standings), we had an opportunity to close the gap on them."

    Speaking of being dominated by the box score, I don't think getting out-blocked 10-3, out-shot from the foul line 25-17, and getting out-rebounded 41-34 are long-term recipes for success. Don't blame the starters though, as each had a +/- rating of at least three. Our bench nearly gave away the game on several occasions, blowing each lead the first unit built. Rudy didn't even attempt a shot, Jerryd's shining moments included a three minute span where he hit a long-jumper and successfully operated the fast-break but for the most part looked out of sync all night, and Juwan, outside of a couple jump shots, got absolutely annihilated on the glass by Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka. All in the all, the Thunder bench tallied 23 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 blocks compared to Portland's 12 points, 2 rebounds, and zero blocks.

    Yes, the team has won 13 of their last 16, but our starters can not simply continue to shoulder this much of the load. Juwan, I'll give a pass, because he has surpassed all expectations and shouldn't be expected to manhandle the boards on a nightly basis at his age. Bayless needs to just play under control and have a plan when he attacks. Help-side defenses just salivate every time he drives the ball, because he doesn't find the open man enough, instead throws up a shot which gets sent into the 5th row. Rudy may be hurting, but he needs to find his stroke and give this team the boost he gave us early on his rookie year while Marty needs to know he's getting 10 minutes of run a night and just go all out with confidence. Have no fear of getting pulled and just have fun out there.

    People can talk about Durant being in the MVP talk or the next Jordan or whatever, and he is a very good player, not great, I need to wait and see what he does come playoff time before dubbing him "greatness", but I still see more McGrady in his game than Jordan. Make no mistake about it, he is an athletic freak: 6'10" with quickness, handles, range to boot. But I've yet to see him hit clutch shots. Last night was a perfect example. He was the reason his team was even in the game at all with his 13-15 effort at the charity stripes, but he missed every single field goal attempt in the 4th quarter and his shot selection was sketchy at best, pulling up for threes well beyond the arc. Until he can find that "it" factor in crunch time that players such as Roy, Bryant, and Wade obtain, he'll just be another fun scorer to watch. Maybe a lot of you out there think I am being too harsh on the third year, 22-year old player, and I probably am. But when he is being anointed as the second coming by all media outlets, its time to bring his game back down to earth. I felt Batum did a tremendous job getting physical with him and, for the most part, keeping him out of the paint, forcing him into jump shots.

    Roy had 22 points and 7 assists, but it wasn't a typical Roy night as it took him 22 shots to do his damage and Aldridge had his moments, but 14 points and 6 rebounds weren't the deciding factors last night. Rather it was Marcus Camby and Andre Miller leading the charge once again. Early on the the game, as Portland built their nine point first quarter lead, Kristic was active, getting his hands on every rebound, but who was there to always have the last tap and guide it to a teammate? Marcus Camby. Without him, we lose this game and many others and he gives the team a presence inside and as much as we love Joel and Greg, Marcus is capable of making a shot outside of five feet every now and then. He just always makes the right play. Re-signing him should be priority #1 this summer. On to Andre, what more can I say that already hasn't? He fully exposed Russell Westbrook for the young pup that he is and took every advantage to get the Trail Blazers easy buckets. With the way our entire starting 5 is gelling and if we can get any consistency from the bench, 50+ wins is a lock.

    "Tonight felt like a playoff game with their crowd," said Blazers center Marcus Camby, who had 11 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. "They have a great fan base here. It definitely felt like a playoff game."

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