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Blazers are Back!

Janelle’s taking a bath. Presumably to ease the strains of carrying twins full-term. But I think she’s trying to relieve the stress of an absent husband. On my way home from school, I had to pull down “Lost: Full-Grown Male with Glasses” signs from flagpoles just to keep the neighbors from asking questions.

No, it’s not finals yet. Nor have I run off with cold feet from my expecting wife.

It’s the end of October, which means…the NBA season has begun! Which also means I’ve been glued to the TV every night this week and haven’t gotten to bed before 1.* I know, I’m pathetic, but indulge me. After another long draught, basketball is back, baby. And more importantly, my Portland Trailblazers have launched another campaign to grab a title…or, more realistically, at least beat the Lakers.

Face of the Franchise!

So, having watched my guys dismantle the Phoenix Suns and take down the Los Angeles Clippers, allow me to give you an overview of how the Blazers are shaping up this year and what I think they can accomplish.

Prediction: 54-28; 2nd in Northwest Division; 4th in West

Strengths: We haven’t played any great teams so far–Phoenix and the Clippers are middling somewhere in the middle of the Western Conference pack–so it’s hard to say what we’ll really excel at. But what impressed me the most was our rebounding and bench support. With Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla still out with injuries, Marcus Camby has done a remarkable job tapping out rebounds, boxing out, and generally holding down the fort in the paint. His efforts have been complemented by LaMarcus Aldridge and especially Nicholas Batum, our flying Frenchman who, at 6’9″ and a seven-foot wingspan, gathers up loose balls like a fat kid grabs candy from a broken pinata. Offensive rebounds have been crucial for us so far, and this can only improve when our big men come back.

Anxious to see how high Batum can rise this season

Plus, Wesley Matthews, Armon Johnson, and Rudy Fernandez–the Three Guard Amigos–reignite the team every time they step onto the court. We paid a lot of money to give Matthews a big contract this year, and I wasn’t sure at first whether it would be worth it, but I can tell immediately that he’s a guy you want to have on your team. I think he’ll be great for us. Armon is a tenacious devil that shadows ballhandlers like Elaine’s Close-Talker boyfriend from “Seinfeld.” And Rudy–who had been pouting all off-season about wanting to go back home to Spain–seems to have gotten all of that out of his system and is running around looking livelier than ever.

Of course, this team will only be as good as its star: Brandon Roy. So far, he’s looked great: knocking down shots, playing with lots of confident, and knows that he needs to carry this team when necessary. Andre Miller isn’t flashy but he is a savvy vet whose moves will probably run the table at old-men rec leagues into his 70s. I’m a little worried about Aldridge, who hasn’t looked great, but it’s still early.

"Hmmm, shave the goatee, or no?"

Weaknesses: Defense. Defense defense defense. We’ve shown some nice spurts when it counted, especially against the Clippers at the end of the 4th, but most of that was due to their poor offense. Whatever Brandon’s offensive abilities, he is simply a mediocre defender. He can get a steal here and there, but he’s gambling when he does and he gets beat off the dribble frequently. Matthews and Batum are supposed to be our lock-down perimeter defenders, and they’ve down pretty well, but it’s really hard when someone like Greg Oden is on the bench wearing suits and not suiting up to block shots and man the paint. I cringe everytime back-up center Fabrico Oberto enters the game. Not the guy whose going to carry you during Camby’s rests.

Overall, I’m excited. We’re fun to watch, we’ve got a good mix of up-tempo, energetic players and solid, experienced veterans, the type of mix you need to carry you into the playoffs and be flexible enough to win a series. We’ve been there two times in two years now, and I think this is the year we finally take it to the next level. Go Blazers!

 

*One of the most side-effects of moving to Indiana is that puts me at three time zones removed from the West Coast, which means Blazer games usually start at 10:30 for me. Tuesday and Wednesday, I told myself I was only going to watch one quater…then one-half…and finally I was crawling into bed mere hours before I had to get up again. Honestly, I never regret choosing Notre Dame over UC-Irvine except when I’m starting to yawn at tip-off.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Liz
    October 29, 2010 at 8:51 am

    I am keeping my mouth shut.

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