Thursday, April 28, 2011
Words alone are not worth of describing Kevin Durant's show last night to put a wrap on the Denver series. He simply decided to take matters into his own hands and the Nuggets had no answer. It's cliche, but the kid was in that "Zone". This also appeared to be a game ticketed for the visitor as Denver piled up a 91-82 lead with 3 1/2 to go. K.D splashed a 25 footer, then the defense took over. Caused a missed dunk and flat out blocked a jumper by Aaron Afflalo. Throw in a free throw and another Durant bucket and it's a 3 point game with 2 1/2 left. Denver had a better chance stopping the ocean from rushing the shore than slowing down K.D. What do Blazer fans think when they see this young fella become the best player in the game? If I'm an NFL GM...right NFL...I look at Durant/Oden and say screw need and just take the top stud on the board.
Obviously on today's shows big focus on Portland/Dallas, the games last night, and the NFL draft. Should be fun.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
If you're a fan of the Magic don't you wonder where the heck they were keeping that performance? They live to play a 6th game, at Atlanta. The top gun in the East, Chicago rolled Indy to advance. They lie in wait for the winner of that Orlando/Hawks set. The Heat, Griz and Thunder all go for the clinchers this evening. Think about that! For some of the older fans, those are the newer kids on the block who all could grab a spot in the Association's Elite 8.
I know Eugene isn't hockey central, but it was quite the Tuesday which gives way to an amazing Wednesday. Vancouver avoids "that" list. Teams who have blown 3 nothing series leads by beating the defending Cup champion Blackhawks in overtime of game 7. Philly blewout Buffalo in a game 7 while Montreal forced a game 7 at Boston with a scintillating 2-1 win. Tonight, it's dueling game sevens from Beantown and that fantastic Tampa Bay/Pittsburg set. Sweet!
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
With at least a day off between playoff games, I don't know that momentum plays a role beyond the actually game in an NBA series. In baseball you could get a couple of hot pitchers or cold hitters, but in hoops you can work around some of those issues. A good strategy can lead to easy buckets via layup or dunk and free throws. Portland did not carry over any of the Rose Garden magic from Saturday.
This morning was one of those days when you log onto the ESPN site and the lead stories had nothing to do with scores, stats or stuff that occurs in between the white lines. The trio of top headlines were about the ruling in the NFL lockout, the NBA players union possibly decertifying and colleges distorting information to seem compliant for Title IX.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Game 4 was special. Blazer fans got to witness one of the most improbable come backs of NBA playoff history and they got to watch their resurrected hero, Brandon Roy, pull of the incredible feat. There was however another hero in the Rose Garden on Saturday afternoon that deserves a thanking; the fans.
I have been in attendance at many Blazer playoff games and big regular season matches, as well as Duck football home games against OSU, USC, ect. Nothing compared to the crowd on Saturday at the Rose Garden. The atmosphere was so electric that I frequently caught myself taking notes on the crowd rather than the game.
Through three of the worst quarters of basketball that I’ve ever seen, I witnessed a fan base that refused to give up. During an offensively abysmal first quarter the cheering never subsided. During a 3rd quarter when the Blazers went 0-14 and scoreless during the first 9:03 of the second half, the crowd still chanted “Defense!” on almost every Mavs possession. When a Blazer would get fouled, the crowd erupted. This scenario would be repeated when that same player went to the line and hit a free throw. I remember thinking that if by some miraculous long shot the Blazers turn this around, it will be because of the fans.
After the game I asked Andre Miller if the crowd was a factor in them not giving up on themselves. “It was definitely a factor, it was big,” he replied, “The energy in the building just kind of took over for us.”
In a post-game conference after the game Roy said that he has never in his life been in that sort of zone. No one could have predicted this after game two when he admitted to being near tears due to only 8 minutes of playing time in the game and going 1-8 from the floor in the series. Roy has had some big moments during his career, but that was by far his best quarter. In the final 12:45 of the game his player efficiency rating was an incredible 89.68. How could such an unpredictable turn around happen so rapidly? Roy has played well in high pressure situations and has been fueled by rowdy crowds his entire career, but didn’t have a chance to experience that this season. I think he was a little starved for those big moments with his loyal fan base cheering him on. When he saw those first buckets go down during a 5-0 Blazer run to close out the third, I believe Roy felt something he hadn’t in a long time. And he liked it. When he started making shots at the beginning of the fourth and the crowd went wild even though the Blazers were still in a huge hole, it sparked something in Brandon Roy.
Had fans left at half time and not given their team something to rally for, I believe it would be a much different series. When asked about the crowd, veteran Marcus Camby responded, “The crowd was as advertised, I think we have the best fan base in the league. We needed that, being down they could have easily kicked us while we were down but true Trail Blazer fans always seem to rise to the occasion. They definitely willed us to a win tonight.”
As I was leaving the arena I heard screams permeate through the Rose Garden doors from the player’s parking lot. A group of loyal and patient fans were waiting over an hour after the game to catch a sighting of their hero, Brandon Roy. When he came through the doors, the fans showered him with praise.
Walking back to my car I passed a house with a red jersey hanging with pride from the roof of the front porch. It was a Brandon Roy jersey fluttering in the wind for all to see. The blazermaniacs are a special breed, and their devout loyalty was definitely on display Saturday, as it will be again for game 6.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Huge win for the Blazers, but I remain unconvinced. This team is awful at shutting the door. They'd be a terrible baseball closer. You'd get a lot of walks, guys on base and a bunch of antacid moments. Portland caught a bit of a break that Dallas was bricking from the foul line. They went just 13 of 23. The Blazers shot a better percentage from 3 point land than the Mavs did on free throws. Gotta be pleased with the defense which allowed just 20 points in both the 3rd and 4th quarters. Obviously we'll focus big time on this during our shows.
Way too much being made of the Laker struggles thus far in the New Orleans series. For the billionth time over the last 3 full years and all of this when LA has gone unbeaten in the Western Conference playoffs. It's not about sweeps or blowouts, rather taking 4. That's what they do. Last season the Thunder pushed them to 6 in round one and after dusting the Jazz, it took 6 versus the Suns. The year before the 1st rounder against Utah went 5, then 7 vs the Rockets, and after splitting the 1st four with Denver took that series in 6. The champs are about the end result, not the path. We shall see.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
D.O.D time for the Blazers this evening. Lose and the questions pile up. Why did they extend Nate McMillian? Why did they give Brandon Roy the max out deal? Will B.R be able to come to grips with the kind of player he is now versus what he was when the guy was considered among the game's elite. I know fans are brimming with optimism but I just think too many questions exist for them to sweep in the Rose Garden. They're going to need more of an etched in stone scheme to lean on the final minutes of a close game. It's not over, but the fat lady is drinking warm tea and exercising her vocal chords.
Kind of an odd but telling victory for LA over New Orleans. Defense suffocated the shorthanded Hornet offense in the 87-78 win. Kobe made just 3 field goals on his way to 11 points, Pau Gasol was 2 of 10 with just 8 points yet they won it pretty easily. Big night for Bynam. Big fella with 17 pts and 11 boards....swatted a few as well. Lamar Odom celebrated his 6th Man of the Year trophy with 16 points and 7 rebounds.
What do you guys think about the NFL draft on a Thursday night in prime time? More of a fan of the Saturday morning routine? Be interested in your thoughts when we roll with Crunchtime this afternoon.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Portland fans can take solace in myself and fellow Knicks fans being equally miserable. They lose Chauney Billups in the opener, then Amare Stoudamire last night yet had the lead with inside of 30 seconds left in both. The familiar angle? Both times head coach Mike D'Antoni was totally outcoached by Doc Rivers. Play calls, defensive lapses, poor communication. When push comes to shove, Carlisle and Rivers have been generals, rallying their troops in a victorious manner. D'Antoni and McMillian have kind of poked and hoped things turn out well. They didn't.
You know it's gonna be a tough night for Big Apple fans when Mariano Rivera blows a 2 run save situation. Oh the horror. Remember, 1st SportsTalk watch party is tonight at the Black Forrest Tavern on 11th in Eugene between Oak & Willamette. Hope to see you there.