Old Habits Die Hard, Or They Should
By AdamBjaranson Posted in: Blazers, Cavaliers
As we bask in the glory of this 98-78 rout of Cleveland on Sunday, we know that this season will be one long, strange trip. In other words, don’t get too high, and certainly don’t get too low. The players are working through the mental side of this, but the physical part will catch up too. We’ve (as Blazer fans) seen it already. See LA, then Phoenix. It was ‘Jekyll meets Hyde’ at its purest. And every team will endure it at some point over the next 4 months. Yes, even the Miami Heat.
What impression have the Blazers left on me thus far? Well, that’s a loaded question. First off, I’ll go with the ‘off court’ stuff. This isn’t lip service here, but I’ve NEVER been around a group of more likeable guys. Sometimes it’s hard to believe, given some of the egos that pro athletes have. But I will assure you this, you won’t find any of that at One Center Court in 2012. Secondly, I can’t say enough about the new style of play. If it results in wins, I’m all for it. Right now, at 6-2 on the young season, I’m a big fan. If you’ve got the horses, you got to go out and race them. Right? And lastly, I’m encouraged by the unselfish play by this team. Look, they still haven’t played a complete game. And, who knows, they may not this season. But when each player says that “it’s not about me, it’s about this team”, I get a little excited. Not often do you hear the words “I” during the post-game interviews. Win as a team, lose as a team.
And remember this. As a group, Blazer guards have yet to shoot the ball at a high percentage this season. It will change, and when it does, we will welcome it. Two Blazer newcomers--Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford--are each shooting less than 35 percent through eight games. And make no mistake, they’re a big part of what this team wants to do. These are a couple of vets still trying to learn their teammates, but I’m confident that they will get it going soon.
So, Portland now enters a very difficult stretch. Again, it’s where the mental side takes on the physical side. Starting with Tuesday’s game vs. the Clippers, the Blazers will play 13 games in 20 days. Eight of those will be on the road. Feel it now? The players surely will. Hey, some wins will be pretty (see Lakers). Others, really won’t be pretty (see Cavaliers). All that matters to Blazer Maniacs is winning games. Sunday was that night. LaMarcus had all-star numbers with 28 pts, 8 rebs, and 4 steals. That led four Blazers in double figures. The best part of this win, I believe, was how the Blazers got stronger offensively as the game wore on. Saving the best for last. Scores by quarters were 18, 24, 27, and 29. Numbers can explain it most times, and this backs it up for me.
Bring on the Clippers! It’s payback time for the NBA’s newfound darlings. As much as I want to still ‘think’ they are the usual punchline to a joke, they aren’t. We find out Tuesday! See you then.