A NOTE OF THANKS TO ALL OF YOU AND SOME ANNOUNCEMENTS

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Hello everyone,

 

I’ve been meaning to write a note of thanks to all of you for supporting our site over the course of this past season, so here it is: Thanks! When I took over this site in August, there had been many talented writers who had written in this space – some of whom had gone on to much cooler things – but we had just lost our ESPN affiliation and while I was happy to keep writing stuff here and see what happened, I had no idea how long it would last and honestly, I didn’t expect it to get through the end of the season. Fortunately, we were #blessed with a really fun year of the Blazers to write about, as at least my writing here soon moved from actually trying to recap games and provide serious insights to instead attempting to capture the experience of Blazer fandom (something I know a lot more about) with each game of the season as a different window into that experience. Yet even as fun as the season quickly became, I still would not have lasted running this blog without Corbin joining the cause, as well as the contributions of Grady O’Brien, Lindsay Mills, Jack Ward, Tron Burgundy, Gage Hamilton, and the Rip Citizens squad.

So big thanks to everyone – you/them/us/everyone on Twitter for joining in our nonsensical in-game conversations/the people that linked to our stuff (Blazer’s Edge, Ball Don’t Lie, Willamette Week for including us on the list of 26 Reasons to Love Portland, etc.) – for allowing us to find, survive, and grow in this fun weird niche of the Blazers mediasphere.

 

As for the offseason, we’ll be doing our best to keep it all going through the draft, Summer League, and not to mention the upcoming revolution spearheaded by Corbin Smith that y’all will find yourselves so enveloped in so very soon. My presence might get a little sparser around these parts, as I’ll be working on a separate project for most of June and into July (and no, contrary to several reports, it is not the proposed site within ESPN.com in which Corbin and I write semi-fictional accounts of us playing Subbuteo with various historical dictators). Then at the end of July, I’m moving to New York to go to graduate school, so while I’ll still be around here, hopefully still running the site and writing periodically, I won’t be able to write nearly as much as I did this past season which brings me to my last announcement…

We need some more writers! If you like us or don’t like us and just like writing stuff about the Blazers, please email me at the portlandroundballsociety@gmail.com address. If you have clips, send those too. If you don’t have clips, no worries, email me anyway. And don’t feel the need to be funny or weird or caps-locked or include dragon references or anything else, we’re just looking for talented people who can write in whatever way comes naturally to them, so long as it’s interesting and engaging and vaguely related to the Blazers. Unfortunately we can’t pay you in anything more than smiley emoticons, but once you get beyond the rookie phase in which Corbin stands over you and shouts random obscenities as you try to compose paragraphs while I glare a Sheedian glare at you through Skype dressed in a full Walt Williams outfit complete with high socks—after that phase—you will have so much fun! I promise!

GAME 5, SPURS 104 – TRAIL BLAZERS 82: KING OF COUNTRY

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OH GOD THEY LOST OH NO THE SEASON IS OVER WHAT DO WE DO NOW YOU MEAN WE ACTUALLY HAVE TO TURN OFF OUR TELEVISIONS AND INTERNET MACHINES AND SPEND TIME WITH OUR FRAMILIES EVEN THE HAMSTER IN THE PLASTIC BALL BUT CMON THE PLASTIC BALL IS SUCH A PHYSICAL BARRIER IN OUR RELATIONSHIP AND A CLEARLY ANTISOCIAL LIFE CHOICE HE DOESN’T CARE ABOUT US HOW CAN WE BRING HIM INTO OUR LIVES WHEN HE WOULD RATHER LIVE ALONE IN A PLASTIC BALL AND WHAT ABOUT MY EARL WATSON PAPER MACHE EFFIGIES I SUPPOSE WE HAVE TO GIVE UP CRAFTING NOW TOO IS THERE ANYTHING IN OUR WORLD THAT CAN STAY OH SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP I DON’T WANNA HEAR ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS OR YOUR UNHEALTHY PAPER MACHE FIXATION WITH EARL WATSON I JUST WANNA YOLO BLOW THIS THING OUT FOR ONE LAST TIME FOR THE SAKE OF THE GOOD TIMES AND FOR THE SAKE OF THE JOURNEY AND FOR THE SAKE OF WILL BARTON ALLOWING US TO SEE THE WORLD THROUGH HIS KALEIDOSCOPE EYES WORD TO RAY HUDSON AND FOR THE SAKE OF LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE GOING ALL REVERSE PETER PAN AND CUTTING LOOSE FROM THE SHADOW OF POTENTIAL AND FOR THE SAKE OF ALL OF US DIPPING OUR SOULS IN THE EXCEPTIONALLY WET AND HOLY WATERS OF THE RIVER DAMIAN LILLARD FOR A MAGICAL 0.9 SECOND CLEANSING AND FOR THE SAKE OF THE LATE DOCTOR JACK RAMSAY.

RATHER THAN FOCUS ON THE BLAZERS COMPLETELY FALLING APART IN THE SECOND HALF AT THE HANDS OF A SPURS SIDE SANS TONY PARKER OR THAT THE SPURS’ TWO LEADING SCORERS WERE DANNY GREEN AND KAWHI LEONARD FOLLOWED BY PATTY MILLS WHO SPENDS MOST OF HIS OFFSEASON TIME PLAYING LUTE IN A MIDIEVEL THEMED BEYONCE COVER BAND CALLED “SERF BORED” OH GOD TWO HORRIFIC PUNS IN THE SAME JOKE DELETE DELETE DELETE IS IT DEAD YET DELETE DELETE MOVE ON QUICKLY SO ANYWAYS INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON ALL THAT STUFF LET’S ENJOY THAT WE GOT TO WATCH KAWHI DO SPECTACULAR THINGS ON A BASKETBALL COURT AND SEE SOME FINE PERFORMANCES FROM THE BLAZERS LIKE NICOLAS BATUM HAD 12 REBOUNDS AND LILLARD HAD 10 ASSISTS AND UH WAIT GIMME SEC UH SCANNING THROUGH HERE UH IS 5-19 THREE-POINT SHOOTING GOOD UH HOLD ON UH WELL ANYWAYS WHO CARES ABOUT ONE GAME ANYWAY IT WAS AN AWESOME SEASON SO LET’S JUST CELEBRATE THAT INSTEAD I MEAN HOW MANY OF YOU GUYS THAT WATCHED LAST SEASON OR EVEN SUMMER LEAGUE WOULD HAVE BELIEVED THAT THE BLAZERS WOULD WIN A FIRST ROUND SERIES AND THEN WIN A SECOND ROUND PLAYOFF GAME AGAINST THE SAN ANTONIO SPURS BEHIND A FANTASTIC GAME FROM WILL BARTON AND REMEMBER EARLIER IN THE SEASON WHEN THE BLAZERS WERE THE BEST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE OH MAN LET’S JUST TAKE A MOMENT ON THAT ONE AND IMAGINE EACH OTHER IMAGINING IT LIKE WE’RE ALL LOOKING UP AT THE SAME MOON.

I WILL END HERE BY MAINTAINING MY STANCE THAT THE CITY OF PORTLAND SHOULD HOLD A PARADE FOR THIS TEAM BECAUSE PARADES SHOULD NOT BE RESERVED ONLY FOR CHAMPIONSHIPS BECAUSE CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE AN UNFAIR CAPITALIST DECIDER OF SUCCESS BECAUSE SUCCESS SHOULD BE MEASURED BY FULFILLING POTENTIAL AND CREATING JOY AND CONTENTMENT AND MAN OH MAN THERE WAS MORE JOY AND CONTENTMENT AROUND HERE THIS SEASON THAN THE LAST TWO SEASONS COMBINED BECAUSE WE GOT TO WATCH A BASKETBALL TEAM FINALLY BLOSSOM INTO A BEAUTIFUL ORCHID FLOWER OF ENLIGHTENMENT AFTER YEARS OF FRUSTRATING CULTIVATION SO YEAH LISTEN UP MAYOR WHATEVER YOUR NAME IS YOU DON’T HAVE TO LIKE MAKE BIG FLOWER FLOATS OR ANYTHING THIS ISN’T THE ROSE PARADE BUT IT WOULD BE NICE IF YOU GOT SOME CONVERTIBLES OR BICYCLES OR EVEN THE PLAYERS COULD JUST WALK DOWN A STREET AND WE COULD APPLAUD THEM AND THEN WE COULD ALL GO OUT FOR FROZEN YOGURT AFTERWARDS AND REMINISCE ON THE SEASON AND IF YOU OPPOSE THAT IDEA THEN YOU ARE A TROPHY ELITIST AND AN OPPRESSOR OF THE NATURAL SYMBIOSIS OF BASKETBALL AND FROZEN YOGURT BECAUSE AS THE BLAZERS SHOWED THIS YEAR YOU DON’T NEED A SUPPOSED FROZEN YOGURT EXPERT TO TELL YOU WHAT TO DO YOU CAN GO INTO THAT BAR AND BLEND FLAVORS HOWEVER YOU WANT THEN SHOWER THE BOWL WITH ANY MIX OF TEDDY GRAHAMS AND SPRINKLES AND CRUMBLED OREOS AND FRUIT AND EVEN THE WEIRD SYRUPS AND WHATEVER ELSE BECAUSE IN FROZEN YOGURT AS IN BASKETBALL AS IN LIFE IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT OTHER PEOPLE SAY ABOUT YOUR CONCOCTION YOU’RE THE ONE EATING IT SO ONLY YOU NEED TO ENJOY IT and just like that the clock ran out and we all turned into pumpkins.

TRAIL BLAZERS VS. SPURS GAME 5 PREVIEW: A PILLAR OF SALT

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-In game four, with their season and their pride on the line, the Blazers did some things differently that worked. Nic Batum, the Blazer’s finest defender of point guards, finally got the call to check Tony Parker for the whole game and held him to 14 points on 12 shots. The Blazers also got an out of nowhere career performance and nearly 30 minutes out of Will Barton and good work from Thomas Robinson. Parker had one assist, which probably didn’t really have much to do with what the Blazers were doing, but a really poor 3-18 three point shooting night from the Spurs. There’s no particular reason to believe the Spurs will shoot that poorly from three again.

-A brief word on the “Hey, someone has to come back from down three! It happened for the Red Sox and it’s happened four times in hockey!” I really honestly doubt it will happen in a basketball series where someone didn’t get injured. baseball and hockey are significantly more variant on a game to game basis than basketball. Also, except for the Game 4 shooting slump, the Spurs have really beat on the Blazers like it’s their calling in life. It would be really cool if the Blazers hadn’t swung their last punch on Sunday, but how do you kill a biological robot without a heart?

-Next year, if there is a next year and the Blazers aren’t disbanded, one certainly hopes that the bench plays more, either because the Blazers signed more reliable bench players or because the ones they have get better or that they’re not better but playing them over the course of season makes them good enough in time for the playoffs. The Spurs’ dumb ol’ “Multi Scenario Depth” made for matchups that the Blazers couldn’t handle, especially with two very small and bad defensive guards on the perimeter. Side note: isn’t McCollum old? If he’s good, shouldn’t he already be good? Because he has not looked very good.

-Another thing the Blazers did in game 4 that worked was not force feeding Aldridge like their lives depended on it. It was an AWESOME idea in the last series, because the Rockets had to choose between Terrence Jones getting absolutely lit or playing an untenable two center offensive lineup, but the Spurs have no fewer than 3 appropriately sized and fleet-footed defenders (Timothy, Tiagothy, and Baynesothy) and also Boris Diaw who is not appropriately sized but is a pretty heavy dude with a low center of gravity and quick hands. He’s like a fluffier version of Chuck Hayes.

-Speaking of Chuck Hayes, I have a theory regarding Chuck Hayes that is completely unrelated to this game. I think now that people are not letting their sons play football, we are going to see more Chuck Hayes-y players in the NBA. Look at this picture of Chuck Hayes:

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That is a 6 foot 6 inch (in shoes) dude who weighs 249 pounds. He has good hands and quick feet, good on screen and an extraordinary post defender because of his ability to leverage his weight against taller defenders. Remember watching Aldridge try and take him when the Blazers played Toronto? The Chuck Wagon wasn’t having it.

In how many universes does a six-foot-five American athlete with quick feet and a special gift for leveraging his not insignificant weight NOT end up playing lineman on a football team? Hayes himself has even said that he has defensive lineman’s legs. The fact that he is in the NBA is probably a cosmic accident, but the future Chuck Hayeses will come from a world where concerned mothers are pulling their children out of football. MARK MY WORDS.

GAME 4, TRAIL BLAZERS 103 – SPURS 92: LIVIN’ IT UP

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Look guys I really have no idea what to say about this game. I’m not a very good basketball blogger anyway, but when you separate me from the structure of the television broadcast and throw me into the cauldron of light-up sticks and free t-shirts and unsynchronized “D! Fense!” chants—the cauldron named for Mola Ram—well, my ability to analyze or contextualize or summarize a game in an effective manner goes from the normal mediocre-to-poor-but-masked-by-weird-jokes-and-distracting-fan-fiction level to the empty vacuum of space in which even the jokes instantaneously suffocate and die. Actually, maybe that’s it. I expected the Blazers to die, and I expected to write a eulogy. Now, uh, they didn’t die, they’re still alive, the mood was pretty high in the arena, everyone seemed to have a really good time, I had a really good time, and uh, well maybe I should still write a eulogy. I don’t know.

Was this a wake? Fate was certain. Tensions were low. Sadness was absent. Joy was high. When Storm Large sang the national anthem, she beckoned for the crowd to join her, imploring us to celebrate what could have very well been the last time we would all get to take part in a weird patriotic pregame ritual until next season, and next season is not this season OH SHIT THAT’S THAT CUTTING ANALYSIS RIGHT THERE HOLD UP I GOTTA TAKE A PICTURE WITH IT FOR MY MOM.

During introductions, when the lights turn down low and everyone holds up their red glowing sticks and yells just to yell cuz sometimes you just gotta yell I ain’t judging, the energy felt different than say, Game 4 against Houston (which was the only other playoff game I’ve attended this year so yeah I’m 2-0 you’re welcome Blazers). Do not be mistaken, it was live as hell tonight, but there was no fear. We had accepted our fate, but we were gonna turn up because if you’re gonna die you better die turnt that’s how you get into heaven.

Playing on behalf of your favorite neighborhood bar where you drink $3 tall boys and mingle with fellow degenerates and watch SportsCenter on mute while you silently lament how your life became “this,” the Blazers jumped out to a quick lead for the first time in the entire series over the Texas-funded developers who will soon turn the site of your favorite neighborhood bar into a giant construction site decorated with scaffolding covered in “Popovich Construction” banners until it’s finally replaced by 35-unit luxury apartment structure with a Panera Bread underneath. Fucking Tony Parker loves Panera Bread.

There was actually a competitive basketball game happening in the soon-to-be Panera Bread for a good 2 ½ quarters, THAT IS UNTIL WILL BARTON HAPPENED (and Thomas Robinson). The main Blazers all played well. I can list their names but you know who they are. I will say that Nicolas Batum played impassioned defense on Parker and Ginobli and had 14 points, 14 rebounds, and 8 assists. Man, he always has the most beautiful lines in the box score. Hang that shit up in MoMA. Watch an art student stare at it for 30 minutes then cry. “IT’S SO UNIVERSAL AND PERSONAL AND UNCOMPROMISING.” Meanwhile in the big room, the weird smelly people who snuck in on the free admission day and never left are still frozen and mesmerized by the performance of one Will The Thrill The People’s Champ Trill Barton.

With Mo Williams nursing whatever he’s nursing (groin I think? HEY ESPN IS THAT DIRECTION, NERD), Barton stepped into Mo’s minutes as primary creator when spelling Lillard and as wacky scorer when next to Lillard, and holy shit he did really well. 17 points and a runaway playoff win speak for themselves but allow me to speak further. When running the point, Barton was basically given a horse that he promptly climbed inside at a sub-molecular level and changed its genome and all of a sudden he was riding a Pegasus-like winged equine beast that no longer had a head because it was too in tune with the universe to have need for a head but it did have a few extra legs and used those legs to score a series-best 11 fast break points – and while next to Lillard, he was the hot sauce on the hash browns, so to speak.

For nearly the entirety of the season, Mo Williams has been derided by fans for his apparent duality between viable scoring option and turnover-prone madman. He typically can only manage one facet of his basketball personality per game, which is what makes him such an unpredictable and frustrating player. Barton, however, seems to possess a similar duality between wild scorer and savvy creator, but he moved between the two in this game with such ease and self-awareness that—well, maybe take your time to get healthy, Mo. Lastly we get to Thomas Robinson, who was the only bench player other than Barton to score, even though his line in the box score said only, “Turnt.” So yeah, it was a fun wake.

TRAIL BLAZERS VS. SPURS GAME 4 PREVIEW: PILE OF GOLD

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TEN PARAGRAPHS REGARDING TOMORROW’S GAME, OR NOT REGARDING TOMORROW’S GAME:

1. We’re all going to die someday. It doesn’t matter that we had good lives, ate good food, listened to good music, watched a hell of a ballgame, someday it’s going to end and we’re going to die. The Blazers, now facing a 3-0 deficit against a team that has thoroughly dominated them, are also almost certainly going to die. Once they’re gone, people will only mention this disemboweling in passing. They will instead talk about the crazy Houston series and Lillard’s game winner. Remember the good times.

2. The Blazers have outrebounded the Spurs 132-127 in the series. If anyone ever tells you that any one aspect of anything is the key to find success in that thing, kick them in the shins. Things are very complicated, as a rule.

3. The Rockets went undefeated against the Spurs in the regular season, 4 multi-possession wins. Howard would have done a better job guarding Parker off screens and Harden gives San Antonio fits. The Spurs probably lucked out with this matchup.

4. The Blazers run a sort of weird bastardized Indiana defense, where the big man (Lopez) drops down to protect the rim and they all but concede log two point jumpers. But they don’t have Indiana’s defensive talent and a player like Parker, who shoots well from midrange, can burn them. Batum did a better job following Parker around screens than anyone else so far.

5. The Blazers have a crummy bench filled with young players who never play. Should they send players down to the D-League to get playing time more often? Should they give give worse players NBA minutes to try and develop them? How much does playing young players help them get better, really? How many wins should a team sacrifice to improve prospects? The Spurs have a good bench, what are they doing? Are rhetorical questions annoying?

6. LaMarcus Aldridge is an overgrown apple tree, Tim Duncan a stately pine, Robin Lopez a cherry blossom, Tiago Splitter an olive tree, Boris Diaw a cactus, Aron Baynes a log cabin.

7. Blaze the Trail Cat should obviously be a salmon. I will write more extensively on this topic over the summer, but it’s important to plant the seed in the ids of my readers before then.

8. Part of the reason players sign for under market value for the Spurs so readily is that they don’t have to pay income tax. If the Blazers really want to compete in this league, Oregon has to completely blow up their tax structure, absolutely it is worth it, how dare you think anything is more important than sports (I am a Washington resident).

9. Last night I was taking a shower and my bottle of Bronners soap was clogged up. I squeezed the bottle really tight and it shot me right in the eye and burned super duper bad. If you tole me the Blazer could come back and win the series, if only I would pour a bottle of soap in my eyes, I would probably say, “Nahh.” that really hurt a lot.

10. HOPS PREVIEW: The Hillsboro Hops are the Portland Metropolitan Area’s finest half-season A Level Professional Baseball team and their season is going to start on June 18th. Does Elvin Sotto have what to takes to bring Hillsboro’s finest to the promised land in your opinion? Oh boy, I am bushed from writing that Hops preview.

GAME 3, SPURS 118 – TRAIL BLAZERS 103: ALL HANDS ON THE BAD ONE

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Tonight, the Portland Trail Blazers gathered around their table for a nice turkey meal. They had not been home for five days, and they were looking forward to eating the turkey Coach Sotts had cooked. They sat around the table on which the turkey, fully cooked and stuffed and golden brown was ready to be eaten. They said grace, and right when Coach Sotts was about to make the first slice with his sharpened serving knife, the doorbell rang.

“I wonder whoever that could be?” Said Wes. He got up from the table, walked to the door and opened. It was San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker.

“Oh, hello Tony.”

“Ello’ Wezzley.” Tony was clearly quite drunk. “What are you eating in there?”

“Well, Tony,” said Wes, “The team is sitting down for a home cooked turkey meal.”

“MMM, Turkey!” Replied Parker, his eyes wide open with malevolent lust, “I love turkey, I am going to eat that right up!”

“I’m sorry, Tony,” said Wes, “This is our turkey, at our house, and we are going to share it as a tea…”

Before Wes could finish, Tony charged at the turkey. Wes tried to stop him, when all of a sudden, quiet as the night and without a single wasted movement, future first ballot Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall-of-famer Tim Duncan crashed through the back door and stood right in Wes’s path. Wes ran headfirst into the man-become-brick-wall and cleared a perfect lane for Tony to grab the turkey with his bare hands and eat and eat and eat. Tony attacked the turkey from everywhere:

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Soon enough, every member of the Spurs was in the Blazers’ house, taking bites out of the turkey and screening anyone who tried to stop them. Tim Duncan took little nibbles, so perfect it was as if his bites were made from science and God at once. Boris Diaw took big ol’ bites. Manu Ginobli made herky jerky motions then fell right into a perfect bite. Patty Mills, once a member of this very family, now a traitor, danced and jutted around and just drilled bites over everyone. At one point, Tim threw the turkey across the room and Kawhai Leonard grabbed it with those gigantic mitts of his and he took a big old bite even as Damian tried to stop him with all his strength.

The Blazers kept dropping the turkey on the floor, and the Spurs kept taking advantage and getting big ol’ bites out of it.

The Blazers tried everything to stop them: even VICTOR CLAVER jumped into the fray, but he was so rusty after a year of sitting in the corner (184 minutes played all year) and chewing on saltines that even when he got free bites, he totally bricked them.

Wes and Nic got good chewing in, they came ready to eat, but Damian and LMA were all over, missing bites at the plate and trying to take more and more outlandish bites as this nightmare went on. For a while in the third, partially because Nic used his long arms to keep Tony from the turkey, but mostly because the Spurs were missing bites, the Blazers looked like they were going to make a meal out of this mess. But in the third, the Spurs descended and chowed down while coach Pop just sat outside, sipping on five hundred dollar wine and occasionally yelling things like “Hey, Danny! You can chew better than that! Stop getting gravy on your shirts, you dummies!”

By the end of the night, the Spurs, full for now but still not quite satisfied, returned to their hotel to watch a movie on TV. The Blazers just sat in shocked disbelief around a turkey carcass they just couldn’t get a good bite out of. Their floor was covered in grease.

THE HALL OF INDIGNITIES:

LAMARCUS SHOT CHART:

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That’s a few misses at the rim, NBD, didn’t make ME cry I am a big strong man. I think he had one rebound in the second half. Was not a great night for the ol’ L-Train.

EARL WATSON: FIVE MINNUTES, 0 POINTS, ZERO REBOUNDS, ZERO ASSISTS, ZERO STEALS, ZERO BLOCKS, one personal foul never change Earl.

The Spurs went 25-25 from the line. Not only did the Blazer not play well, the Gods were aligned against them.

Victor Claver missed four foul shots, but hey, he got fouled twice.

Tiago Splitter hit a long jumper.

CJ McCollum was isolating on the very last play and couldn’t get a shot off in time. Very depressing stuff.

Meyers Leonard had one defensive rebound and was a +2. Worst game ever.

 

TRAIL BLAZERS VS. ROCKETS GAME 3 PREVIEW: THE COLD PART

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Here is a list of numbers: -8, -11, -20, -24, -15, -11, -46, -20, -14, -19, -23, -17, -6, -37, -12. The average of these numbers is -18.86. The median is -17.  These numbers represent the sum of the point differentials of the first two games of every series where a team down that was two games in a 7 Game series and came back to win. Think about it like a measure how badly each team was getting beat before they came back to win.

The Blazers’ point differential after two games is -39. If they were to win this series, it would be the second biggest two game whoopins that a team recovered from. Some people will tell you that this miracle is on the horizon, son, but let you dad set you straight; it probably won’t. The largest comeback, the 1995 Drexler/Dream Rockets ousting Charles Barkley’s Suns, happened in part because Barkley was limited by a leg injury in game seven a game Houston won by a single point. Then Houston went on to win the title. If that piece of information makes you optimistic, you’re very superstitious.

The last team down two games to win in the series was the Thunder, against the Spurs, in 2012. If this makes you optimistic, you’re weird, because Kevin Durant and James Harden, who was an absolutely matchup nightmare for that particular Spurs team is not on the Blazers. This series has really exposed the Blazers’ lack of depth. Not because they are heaving rotting corpses off the bench and telling them to play basketball and win, but because the Spurs (A product of good GMing or providing suitable developmental minutes and structure to sketchy players or both?) are putting out lineups that the Blazers just have no answer for.

The Blazer are slightly out rebounding the Spurs in the series so far, which is good! But the Spurs have 42 points on 24 offensive rebounds, which is bad.

In the last game, Wes Matthews switched on the Parker and did a much better job than Lillard, who efforts his way into picks like it is his job. Writers in this Publication have previously called for Batum to guard Parker, but they forgot that this would place Wes on Kawhi Leonard, who is very big and could probably post up Wes and make points from with his massive wizard’s hands. Then again, Wes is pretty strong, maybe they should give it a try.

Mo Williams is injured, Earl Watson will probably get his backup point guard minutes, which is cool, because Earl is cool as hell and he loves foulin’ dudes. Will Barton, of all people at all times, has played well in this, of all series, and could probably end up absorbing the minutes Williams plays at shooting guard. Lamarcus Aldridge, is not playing, like, super great? He had sixteen on twenty-three shots on Thursday, which is bad, and the Spurs aren’t doubling him or which keeps Blazer shooters covered.

The Blazers are shooting 40.6% from three, which is not bad, so you can’t say something like “They’re just not going in!” Although, the Spurs are shooting 60% from three, so that should regress and help the Blazers get one or two. There were five (5) Spurs rotation players who shot more than 40% from three on the season, Jesus that is so many, they make these guys in a factory in darkest Europe, I tells ya.

GAME 2, SPURS 114 – TRAIL BLAZERS 97: TWANG

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Well, the Blazers lost again. But instead of a total blowout, it was only kind of a blowout! In #fact, let’s half fill up our glasses and look at all of the #positive #basketball #improvements shown tonight (there’s not actually that many so this shouldn’t take that long which is nice because I don’t really want to talk about this game very much anyway). Last game, the Spurs thoroughly destroyed the Blazers from the moment the older gentleman in the NBA-issued v-neck tossed the ball skyward. But tonight, with Wes Matthews instead of Damian Lillard checking Tony Parker from the start, the Blazers hung around, they traded buckets, they grabbed some rebounds, they even got a couple stops, and they ended the first quarter down by just a cool three points.

They started the second half even better! The Blazers won the third quarter by a score of 20-17! 17 points! Defense! Standing in front of people! Good stuff! Even the fourth quarter, when the Blazers technically lost, the Spurs only outscored them 27-26. So yeah guys, the Spurs only edged the Blazers by one point over three quarters! That’s not bad at all! Turn that frown upside down! Actually, wait a sec before you do so. You may want to keep that frown for a moment longer.

 

[Lights dim. A lone spotlight shines down onto Pitbull, sitting on a stool in front of the stage. He raises his head slowly. His gaze is sad and blank. He seems draped in an invisible melancholy hue. A lone tear forms in the corner of one eye. He wills it away. From the back of the stage, in the darkness, Ke$ha begins to sing the dirge, “It’s going down, I’m yelling ‘Timber’…”]

 

Oh yeah, the second quarter………41-25, Spurs. In four and a half minutes, it went from a one-point game to an 18-point game. When the Spurs get going like that, uh—you remember like in Spanish class or French class or whatever when you would be listening to a recording of some native speaker and you would kind of understand at the beginning that they were talking about burritos or croissants or what have you, then you missed a couple words, then a sentence, then all of a sudden it’s just background jibberish while you find yourself mindlessly staring out the window and wondering if different types of birds have any prejudices towards each other or if they all respect each other equally as fellow birds? Robin Lopez knows what I’m talking about.

As ugly as it was to see the Blazers get – more or less – RUN, again, there were some fun moments towards the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth when it almost felt like the kind of weird game that someone would stumble across on League Pass in January when House Hunters transitioned into that lame renovation show but when this fictional person wasn’t quite ready to go to bed yet. The crowd had become disinterested, or at least quietly contented. Each team was emptying their bench – the Spurs because they were in the midst of a blowout, and the Blazers because Terry Stotts had nothing left to do except cry softly. Then all of a sudden, Will Barton started hitting shots, Thomas Robinson was doing that stuff he does, and San Antonio’s Patty Mills was doing everything in his power to keep the Spurs’ healthy advantage. If it wasn’t happening in a depressing playoff loss to the Spurs, I might have uttered a few hearty laughs at the scene on display. As it was though, the Blazers did manage to cut the lead back to single digits during that stretch and tease at making a total comeback, which they did not do. But that does bring me to one last point before we wrap this up and appreciate the rest of life, notably the things that don’t involve basketball, but yeah as I was saying:

Will Barton played exceptionally well – 13 points, 100% shooting from the field. He received some early minutes after a relatively strong Game 1 and even found some extended run with the starters after Mo Williams had to sit with a groin injury. Also, Thomas Robinson was the only player on the Blazers with a positive plus/minus rating, at +10. His line wasn’t great (2 points, 2 rebounds) but the impact of Thomas Robinson is not measured in the box score, it’s measured with Geiger counters by future generations. Now, to get to that point, Will Barton and Thomas Robinson need to get more run! Gregg Popovich knows everything the Blazers do and he’s already a sorcerer and the Spurs have thusly been Michelangelo freeing the angel from the Blazers’ defense (and offense). Terry Stotts needs to do something wild to shake things up, and Barton and Robinson only know how to do wild things and shake things up. Start Robinson over Lopez in Game 3. Yeah, I said it.

Oh btw there was a rattlesnake in Thomas Robinson’s locker before the game and had it bit him, he could have been in some real health trouble. LOL! The NBA! I love this game!

TRAIL BLAZERS VS. ROCKETS GAME 2 PREVIEW: TRUE AFFECTION

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pickandroll

WELL, alright, that was a bit of a letdown. Okay! So, uh, the Spurs, very good, probably better than the Rockets. Frankly, probably better than all other basketball teams. If I were the coach, I would encourage my team to “not get too stressed out about it” and “don’t feel bad if you start to pack it in a little.”

“Hey, guys. You’re all rich. Start thinking about a nice vay-cay. May I recommend Machu Picchu?” But that right there is the reason I am not a basketball coach at any level! Terry Stotts and his Portland Blazers of Trail will fight on and make adjustments! Win the day! Fight fight fight! “Hey, fellas, we didn’t lose that bad! Let’s go out there again and try our hardest!”

Tony Parker lit the Blazers for 33 points on 24 shots and nine assists on Tuesday, which was probably expected considering the Blazers’ not great pick-and-roll defense, particularly against point guards who are good at scoring, is a matter of public record. Lillard — God bless him, he is a hero amongst the children of Portland — likes running straight into picks and Tony Parker did a stand up job of exploiting that. Here is Parker’s shot chart:

TOnyparkershotshart

(VIA BBall Ref)

And so you might not assume this performance was a giant fluke and unrepeatable, here is his zone chart from this year:

parkerzonechart

Parker’s best area is a lot of areas, and Lillard (and Mo) is (are) still (forever) not capable of hanging with him. Look at that shooting on the right wing! Luckily, the Spurs start Danny Green, a spot shooter who can be checked in the context of team defense and on whom Lillard can “hide” while Batum uses long arms and a better screen-attacking approach to check Parker. A little annoying that this wasn’t the status quo to begin with, since pretty much everyone knew this was where we were headed.

The Spurs are better at defense than the Rockets. They’re using shows on pick-and-rolls and forcing Lillard away from threes off the dribble, instead of funneling into Howard or just kind of haphazardly leaving people open the way Houston did. They also don’t have a mismatch for Aldridge to exploit like Houston did. Tiago Splitter, who you may remember from the times he got stuffed at the rim by LeBron in the finals, is actually a very good player who plays defense and sets big ol’ picks. He started out on Aldridge, and when he left, Duncan slid over to him, then when he left, big Ol’ Australian/Pullmanian dude Aaron Baynes played him.

Ian Levy wrote about the Blazers’ poor shooting last night on 538, you should read it. In summary: The Spurs are awesome at contesting open shots, the Blazers offense is designed to find open shots, the Blazers, particularly Aldridge, took an uncharacteristic number of contested shots. Aldridge played well on Tuesday, 32 points on 25 shots, but that’s probably an individual result on the high end of him taking a lot of post up jumpers against big and strong defenders like Duncan and Splitter. Then again, what else do you do if the Spurs are going to shut off the three-point water as well as they did?

Batum probably won’t be that bad again, so, that’s comforting. Aron Baynes, I don’t even know–remember, Pop is a witch. Hopefully Will Barton (Only a -1!) plays a bunch of minutes, but not really because that probably would mean something bad happened.

PRS RADIO – THE RIP CITIZENS: ONWARD!

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Its been 14 years since we had the chance to podcast about the Blazers making it to the 2nd round. We really blew the opportunity back then. But we’ve learned from our mistakes and are back to recap the Rockets series and preview the Spurs (…albeit after Game 1. Recording schedules have been tough. Give us a break).

We relive the glory of the Dame Winner, break down our favorite moments from round 1, and then look ahead to entirely different beast known as the San Antonio Spurs. Like the great Gandalf, they’re old and wearing grey, yet reliable as hell. Also, very difficult to hate.

All that, plus Twitter lessons from Chilly Willy, Kevin McHale as a Halloween mask, and a recap of our horrible first round predictions.

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