Despite losing both Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla to season-ending injuries, the Portland Trail Blazers have still managed to do a nice job of controlling the paint on both ends of the court. While the play of LaMarcus Aldridge, Juwan Howard, and Jeff Pendergraph has been tremendous, the Trail Blazers will have to be at their best when they face the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night. The combination of David West and Emeka Okafor is one of the most physically imposing in the NBA and will be a difficult match up for Portland in the paint.
Even with the size advantage in the paint, Okafor doesn't believe that the Hornets should focus their game plan on getting the ball in the paint.
"We kinda have to go with the flow," Okafor explained of the offensive game plan. "We want to attack them inside because of the injuries. But then again, that doesn't mean that it's going to be easy. Despite the injuries they have had, they have been playing pretty well. We have to give them the respect, and pretty much stick with what we have been doing."
After being selected with the second pick in the 2004 draft, Okafor has gone through many of the growing pains that the Trail Blazers have seen Oden go through over the past three years. According to Okafor, time around the game is the key to improving as a big man.
"It just takes time," Okafor said. "You just need to go out there and figure out what you do and start honing your skills. It basically just takes time."
While he has developed into a productive big man on the offensive end, Okafor has always been at his best defensively. With a match up against LaMarcus Aldridge on the way, Okafor admits that he will be facing one of the more difficult guys in the league.
"Too be honest, he is pretty effective either way," Okafor said of Aldridge in the post and on the perimeter. "Either way he is going to be a difficult match up. He has a whole bunch of different moves and is a very talented player, so wherever he decides to get the ball, I think he poses an equal threat."
Since the start of 2010, the Hornets have been one of the hottest team in the NBA. The Hornets have won nine of their past 12 games, and Okafor attributes this to the team finding a nice rhythm and chemistry.
"Time to gel," Okaford said of the key to their recent success. "We had a lot of bumps in the road in the beginning. Now we have had some consistent time to just figure out what we do and how we do it."