Trail Blazers @ Suns: round 1, Game 2 Preview
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 04/20/2010 12:40 PM

    Our goal is to only get a split. There's no way we can take two from the Suns in Phoenix. All we have to do is protect home court and its on to the next round. Phoenix is going to come out extra energized and motivated, it'll be a miracle to come out alive. We're satisfied going back to Portland tied 1-1.

    If any player is having those thoughts, they need to be smacked out of them. Of course getting a split on the road is enormous in terms of the entire series, but that doesn't mean it's time to relax or taking a second game is out of the question. The Trail Blazers have a huge opportunity, not task, to put a stranglehold on this series by going up two-love in the best of seven, with two home games at the raucous Rose Garden looming on the horizon. If the team allows Phoenix to put them away easily, it fuels the fire for the argument that Game 1 was a aberration and Phoenix simply overlooked the depleted Trail Blazers. Portland already shot a loud message across to Phoenix in Game 1, now they must do so again.

    After the Game 1 win, I scoured the internet for post-game reactions about the lone upset of the first round. From a lot of Phoenix fans, I kept hearing the same rhetoric over and over about how the Suns will not continue to shoot that poorly throughout the series. Research disagrees with this opinion. Over the span of the four prior games played this year, the Trail Blazers have thwarted all of the gaudy offensive numbers the high-octane Suns usually put up. The normal 110 points per game Phoenix tallies has been restricted to 99. The league-leading 49.2% shooting, plummeted down to 43.8% when being guarded by the red, black, and white. All those three point shooters, bombing away towards a league best 41.2% has been stymied to a cool 36.7% against Portland. Four games against one team is a large enough sample size to revoke the fluke references. A lot of people say Phoenix didn't shoot well, but I've got news for those naysayers, Portland didn't play that great either. You think the 3rd leading free throw shooting team is going to miss six of eight down the stretch again? Is Camby going to miss a breakaway dunk once more? Or LaMarcus and Rudy shooting a combined 10-27 repeatedly throughout the remainder of the series? In the words of Kevin McCallister, "I don't think so!"

    The first quarter is crucial towards success tonight. After being the only home team to lose Game 1, especially when all the experts thought they had the easiest series out West, Phoenix is going to come out guns blazin'. The Trail Blazers must weather the storm and keep the game within striking distance (5-8 points) after the first 12 minutes of action. Phoenix was embarrassed and beaten, making them all the more likely to overexert themselves, which could take them out of their offensive flow. To counter this onslaught which is about to be bestowed upon them, Portland must control pace now more than ever. Put the rock in Dre's hands and let him go to work, creating nightmare matchups for the Suns all game long. I suspect they will have something up their sleeves in regards to containing Miller, therefore, look for Aldridge to see the ball down low early and often to start the game, because there is no way Collins or Frye should be able to uproot him from gaining excellent low-post position.

    The longer the Blazers can make this a close, tight-knit ballgame, the more pressure builds upon the Suns shoulder and doubt clouts their mind. As seen in Game 1, outside of Nash, not many of the Phoenix players react under pressure well. One way this game can get out of hand for the Trail Blazers is if the Suns bench goes bananas on our reserves much like they did on Sunday. Luckily, we had a steady lead built before it happened last time around. Portland needs to do their damnedest to fight through the screens, keeping Nash in front of us, and disallowing him to dissect the defense which results in wide open three-point attempts. If Portland can limit Phoenix's open looks and lock down the defensive rebounds, it could be hard for the Suns to eclipse their 110 point average.

    Obviously Portland needs to continue their defensive prowess over the Suns, but they also must make the same shots they took in Game 1. If Bayless doesn't hit from the outside once or twice, the lane gets a little tighter. If Batum doesn't make those open looks from downtown, the doubles comes quicker and longer towards Andre and LaMarcus. We don't have our go-to-guy who can simply take over games anymore. To win, it must be a total team effort. For the love of all things holy, Fernandez needs to heat up from the outside. Just catch, shoot, and don't think about it Rudy. I expect a lot more of the offense to run through Aldridge, as PHX will most likely dial in to minimize Dre's impact. On defense, let Nash get his, because I don't think he can be stopped unless he is flat out missing, but quiet the others. When Nash is doing the bulk of the shooting its because nothing else is open, which helps keep them out of rhythm. Finally, continue to bother Amare. Frustrate the living daylights out of him and if he wants to ball further away, so be it. Force him to take jump shots. A lot of folks probably don't expect Portland to take two from the Suns, even I must admit I came into this preview feeling a Phoenix win, but after writing and being reminded how this group of guys always rises to the challenge when everything seems stacked against them, I can't go against my team now.

    April 19th Practice

    Round 1, Game 2 Prediction: Portland 103 Phoenix 101
    April 19th Practice
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