Twenty-One Games Down and a Whole Lot of IBS to Go? (Contest Entry)
By portjd Posted in: Blazers
By Jonathan Ryan Davis
It is often deemed uncouth to discuss one's bowel movements in public;
however, there is no better way to describe the 2011-2012 Trail Blazers'
season than a bad case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. As a lifelong
sufferer of this debilitating disorder, I have an intimate appreciation
of one's affinity for home and fear of going out on the road. Home
provides comfort, amenities you are used to, and strong support from
loved ones. When your stomach acts up, people understand, your cat
still loves you, and you get sympathy for every return trip to your
"home within your home."
Going out on the road is a different story. There is constant fear of
co-workers or acquaintances labeling you with hurtful names and
overlooking the id that makes you who you are. Your colon becomes extra
spastic out of fear of no bathroom. You get anxious about every
destination, every traffic jam, and every piece of food offered to you
that might contain undetectable lactose, caffeine, or spice. The road
is a scary place that results in you not being who you are, instead just
a shell of your true essence.
Now 21 games into the season, the Portland Trail Blazers play like they
have IBS. At home, Portland is unstoppable. They average a Chilupah
(+5), they push the pace, Gerald Wallace plays like an All-Star, and the
Blazers' pressure defense creates bundles of points off of turnovers.
Aside from a disappointing loss to the Magic (who are more spastic than
the Blazers this year), Portland has been unstoppable at home, beating
top tier teams like Denver (twice), both LA squads, and an improved
Memphis team. Portland is aggressive from the opening tip, relying on
the consistent inside-out play of LaMarcus Aldridge and the slashing,
destructive force that is Gerald Wallace, to thward opponents. Each
home game usually results in six plus Blazers scoring in double figures,
with reliable bench play by Batum (see his 9....NINE...three pointers
last night), J-Crossover, and even the Rhino, who has gotten less time
in the last week after Nate McMillan likely realized the Rhino is
turning into a "black hole" on offense.
Yet more than their offensive consistency at home, it has been
Portland's team defense that has enabled them to dominate their
opponents. The Blazers are blessed with many hybrid, athletic players
who can switch on defense and cover multiple positions. Nicolas Batum
routinely covers point guards and power forwards in the same game.
Gerald Wallace is the glue on defense that irritates the opposing team's
best scorer. Wesley Matthews is a lesser version of Crash. And in the
middle, Marcus Camby and LA anchor the paint by using quick hands,
active feet, and great timing to aggravate opposing players. Most
importantly, this squad is able to help one another on defense by
trapping in the corner, switching on pick-and-rolls, and rotating for
weakside help (Camby's favorite kind of block).
With this type of smothering defense and fast-paced, efficient offense,
Portland is one of the most dangerous basketball teams in the
league...at HOME. The ROAD, a different ballgame (literally).
Portland has been a different squad away from the Rose Garden. Instead
of playing mostly complete games like they do at home, the Blazers play
one half of competitive basektball and one abysmal half, which
inevitably results in a three point loss. Portland could be up by 23
early, and they lose by three. They could be down by 17 in the fourth
quarter, and they lose by three. Whatever magic they have at home,
Portland loses it when away.
Most journalists and fans point to two key factors in the Blazers' road
woes: 1) A different Gerald Wallace; and 2) Terrible shooting, which
has resulted in averaging fifteen fewer points on the road. These
journalists have analyzed these phenomena ad infinitum; therefore, there
is no need to repeat what has already been said. Wallace feeds off the
crowd...he plays so hard...he gets tired...he needs a special energy
boost...this season will hurt him more than others...all this is true.
As for the shooting woes, the only explanation can be a different
size/shaped cylinder. But one reason many people are overlooking that
explains the Blazers' struggles on the road is: their minds.
When Portland gets on the road, they forget who they are. They forget
they are confident men, capable of inspiring masses. They lose because
they have lost faith in themselves. They believe they are not the same
team on the road; therefore, they do not become the same team on the
road. If Portland's roster is as close as they profess, one can hope
they will resolve this lack of self-esteem and realize they are just as
special when they fly on an airplane away from their friends and family
in the Rose City. Once Portland can do this, they will be a legitimate
contender. Until they do, Portland will remain a solid first round
We will learn much more about our beloved team when they take to the
road again. A .500 record the rest of the way will tell us that the
Portland Trail Blazers can contend. By getting rid of their IBS brand
of basketball, Portland will show the rest of the league the team that
all Blazers fans have fallen in love with.