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Revfisk

Nov 29

Sleepless in Philadelphia - Bitter Blazer Blogging from Hack who Can Still Hit the Three if you Put Him in the Game

By Revfisk Posted in: SteveBlake, RudyFernandez, BrandonRoy, Suns, Cavaliers, Heat
K - First.  You should know that I'm an old school Blazer fan now living on the East Coast and forking out the bucks for NBA broadband (which only works in a picture about 100 by 200 pixels.)

Second, this means I'm staying up passed midnight to watch these abysmal losses to west coast bottom-feeders.  I just don't get it, and no ones talkin' bout it (least, not loud enough for me to find it,) so I'm going to talk about it here.

Having read what little discussion of how bad we've looked since the GSW loss (and yes, we've looked bad especially since the GSW loss, but truly, we've been underachieving since the preseason,) I sat back to rumble it all around my admittedly pint-sized brain and came to the conlusion that my best answers would come from pondering those certain statements which I find myself to be yelling at my flatscreen on a more than regular basis.  You know, the ones that start to sound like an echo after a while.

1.  "BRANDON, SHOOT THE BALL!"  I don't know what's up with B-Roy, but I know this: he's passing up open looks.  More than that, he's passing up open looks at precisely those moments when we need him to take over the game and feed the rest of us his energy.  (You know that pic of him on the NBA commercial after he hit the game winner 3 from DEEP last season - you know that look on his face - haven't seen it.)  But I don't see Kobe or Wade passing up open shots from anywhere on the court in order to swing the ball to Steve Blake for penetration or Adre Miller for a contested three.  I'm not a Blake hater and I loved watching Andre push the tempo last season, but their roles are not to be taking OPEN shots away from our three-time all-star.  Selflessness is a virtue.  Self-destruction is insane.

2.  "Nate, what are you doing????"  Honestly, I can't figure out what NM is trying to do, and I want to.  I truly want to support him, to think he's a great coach, to get on board and see this strategy through, to recognize that he's the professional coach and I'm just some hack, seriously, I can't a rhyme or reason to this mess.  The constant and chaotic busting out of brand new substitution patterns, the attempts to stem the bleeding of 30-point blow out quarters by going into a zone on teams already shooting 70% from the floor, benching Greg for his fifth foul when there's only 8 minutes left in the game, we're down TWENTY and he's the only player to producing.  What is this?  Tough love?   Our offensive sets are depressingly stagnant, simply wasting the clock without advacning the ball or creating pace.  Oden needs many many more touches before he manages to foul out (especially since he and Webster are the the only real bright spots of energy at the moment).  And the role players need to learn their roles, which means learing who they're looking to get the ball to when the clocks running down.  All of this is coachstaff work, not player work.  This is huddle talk. 

3.  "RUDY, SHOOT THE BALL!"  I said it already about Brandon.  It's like watching a skinny white guy rerun or some matrix gliche in the second unit.  I'm not talking about forcing the shots.  I'm talking about not taking the ones that are open so that Bayless can take a double clutch three with 2 secs on the shot clock.  I'd rather Rudy shot the open one. Maybe he'd hit a few more. 

4.  "Why is Greg not touchin the ball?" and "Dammit Greg!"  Stupid fouls are a problem and we all know that.  But he has improved 200% since the first week and the only thanks he's getting for it is to get taken out for "rest" anyway, usually having touched the ball only 2-3 times, which resulted in dunk, an assist and a baby hook.  Hmmm....

5.  "Why is _______ taking that shot?"  The rest of it boils down to regular frustration at the shot selection taken by non-marquee players at very inoppertune moments.  I'm not saying other players shouldn't shoot.  I'm just saying that they don't know that sometimes its not their job to shoot, especially if they're not getting after it on the boards and D.  Or...it is their job to shoot, but not to drive.  Or...it is their job to drive but not to shoot fall aways.  You get the picture.  We got a TON of strengths and we are playing to our weaknesses 9 out of 10 times down the court.  Don't believe?  Go watch either of the last two first halves.  Look at who's shooting and at when they're shooting and at what that shot is in relation to their repetoire.  It's terrifying.  I mean, you do know that the Clips just beat the Griz at home today, right?  What?  We beat the Nets and the Bulls at home?  Sheesh.  We are better than this.

So....this brings me to my conclusion.  This is the problem I'm seeing more than anything else.  We look scared.  All of us.  Just.  Plain.  Scared.  Except NM.  He looks angry.  And he should be, frankly. 

Maybe it's the expectations.  I hope so, becaus that will rub off like a smudge on the arm.  But I'm writing this becasue I don't think that's it.  That's the coward's answer. The problem is deeper.  Much deeper.  Right now we are not a championship caliber team.  No way.  Right now we might not even be a playoff team.  Why?  Because teams like the Thunder are playing out of ther minds and heads abover their level out of sheer desire not to be the team they were last year.  And Phoenix - PHOENIX! - has the best record in the league because Steve Nash all by himself doesn't want to go fishing in May again this year.  And the East is more full of hungry than its been in two or three seasons - even the Cavs are having trouble winning games against this kind of hunger.  Meanwhile, we look like the 3rd youngest team in the league with a confused coach and franchise players who don't seem to know its their job to step up in moments just like this and carry us on their backs.

Think about it.  Why is Miami scrapping their way to road wins against the top teams in the league?  A) They traded Shaq and B) Dwayne Wade is WILLING them to victory.  Last season it was just his will.  This year, its his will caught like a virus.  Why is Pheonix sitting on top of the Lakers in the standings?  A) They traded Shaq and B) Steve Nash, by force of his downright, good-hearted Captain Canadianness is pulling that entire team up by its mental bootstraps and pushing until they have no choice but win.  Look at their roster - its just not that good.  But one great player who motivates the team to follow him makes a bunch of decent players in to a phenominal unit.  Just think what could happen with a roster as loaded with pure bball skill as ours.

We can't trade Shaq.  But we do have an all-star guard with the potential to take this team in hand and peer pressure us to undefeat.  So, is the coaching staff going to make getting that boy's stomach to growl into priority number one, or are they going to keep tinkering with the 1-3-1 and hoping that benching or not benching Bayless will fix it?

5 Comments

  1. A few things:
    1) You're pretty hardcore to stay up late on the East Coast for these games, so major props there.
    2) I'm not entirely sure the team and Nate are on the same page and until they both get there, expect more sporadic play.
    3) Agreed on getting Greg the ball. He leads the NBA in field goal percentage for Pete's sake! Also, I do think he is making more of a concerted effort to not foul but is still getting a lot of those reputation fouls which will haunt him for at least another year. If he continues to be a leader in blocks and rebounds, then he'll start to get the go-ahead to be a a little more aggressive.
    4) Roy needs to step up and just take over some of these games. Case and point was during that awful 31-2 run the Grizz put on us. He needed to just put his head down and go to the hoop.
    5) Finally, the team just needs to know this season will not be easy. They can't trot out there and think just because they won 54 games last year that teams will be intimidated and lay down for them, oh quite the contrary. Now we play the role as hunted instead of hunter.

    by DHawes22 on 11/29/2009 11:51 PM
  2. Yeah. Exactly. Exactly, exactly, EX-freakin-actly!! You just summed up my thoughts, feelings, and frustrations in this single post.

    by Olallie on 11/30/2009 11:09 AM
  3. Thanks. Glad I could help.

    And sure - coach and team are not on the same page. So who's job is it to get on the same page? That one's not up to BRoy.

    by Revfisk on 11/30/2009 4:03 PM
  4. As the "Leader" of this team and cornerstone of the franchise, I still think it is part of Roy's job description to help get everyone on the same page. Many of the guys follow his every move, so if he can help the team gel, it will only help the team in the long run.

    by DHawes22 on 11/30/2009 10:14 PM
  5. Barrett had a nice post today (he always has nice posts XD,) and he links to an interview with a news correspondent who had some good insights into what's egging BRoy. It's worth chekcing out.

    by Revfisk on 12/1/2009 5:33 PM
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