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Early Season Optimism
I cannot recall the last time there has been this amount of excitement and optimism at the beginning of a Trail Blazer regular season. You might think of Oden's rookie year, but he was already done for the season before the regular season even started. The year after that? I remember as clear as day the 24-straight hours of Blazer coverage on the radio leading up to Opening Night against the LA Lakers at Staples Center. Portland was loaded with the dream team - the three big pillars. You all saw what happened there: Players looking overwhelmed on the big stage, and yet another Oden injury. Do we have to go back to the Jailblazer days to find similar early season hype? And how ironic is it that people are bouncing off the walls less than two weeks after finding out that Roy was retiring and Oden may very well be done for the season.
I keep asking myself, Are there legitimate reasons to be this optimistic, or is it somewhat of a human defense mechanism to cope with the devasting losses in the preseason? Have we seen enough to be convinced? Has there been a big enough sample of games?
We are going to find out a lot tonight against Denver at the Rose Garden.
The First "True" Test
Two opponents - Dallas (on the road) and Utah; two scores - 115-93 and 117-100, respectively. Both wins. Not a bad start for the Denver Nuggets. Denver crushed both teams. Utah trailed by 23 at the start of the 4th quarter. Denver led the defending champions by 27 after 3 quarters, and that was right after Dallas was dominated by the Heat in the season opening, again, in Dallas. So much for redeeming themselves.
Denver is 1st in the NBA in scoring and 4th in rebounding. You know things are going well when Andre Miller has gone 2-3 from 3-point range and Rudy hit 3 of 5 threes tonight.
Suffice it to say, Denver is on fire and, while you can argue they played against two overrated teams (although, I'd call a blowout win in Dallas impressive no matter how you slice it), the Nuggets have done what they needed to do, and with style.
The Blazers will be playing a team in Denver that can match them in terms of talent and depth - at least they come a lot closer in those respects than the 76ers and Kings do. In other words, Portland faces a team tonight that will not roll over in die; rather, they will punch back and it will be interesting to see how Portland responds.
I think tonight will really help to answer a lot of questions.
P.S. - Hoping to do some detailed breakdowns of upcoming games in the near future, but
Dave at www.Blazersedge.com is in my opinion clearly the best in the business when it comes to previews and reviews of every Blazer game. I hope I didn't lose any friends in here;)
P.P.S. - Thank you, Kassandra, for Johnson's wife's twitter account. I still hope to get some quotes and write a short profile of him before switching to the media series. Call me "optimistic" ;).
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