Ed.’s Note: In lieu of a traditional preview, Corbin and I discussed our thoughts on the series as well as our hopes, fears, dreams, aspirations, dreams, hopes, and fears. Also, we are well aware that we did not use the proper spelling of the opponent team’s name or the names of its players, but this is the playoffs and disrespecting opponents’ humanity begins now.
CORBIN: Joe, I gotta say, I am FEELING very good about this series for our trusty Portland Trail Blazers.
JOE: Really? I feel good about this series but my feelings should not be trusted. I once believed that Meyers Leonard and J. J. Hickson were a match made in frontcourt heaven (think of the high-lows!). I need you to tell me how crazy I am. I need you to squash my hopes.
CORBIN: Well, Joe, normally I would do that. I am a bitter and sad man whose only joys come in the form of old Baseball Prospectuses and seeing the things I love crushed. For instance, I might normally say something like, “The Blazers have a terrible defense, and an especially bad pick and roll defense, one that has been lit up by teams like the Losetown Sock-its, and in fact, the Socks themselves, all year.” But, I dunno, I just have a good FEELING about this one!
JOE: I expected you to appease my swirling thoughts with math and reason, but you’re saying that feelings are all you have? Feelings are all I have, Corbin, but I had hopes for you. I thought you were an analyst.
CORBIN: I was, until I learned about girls, yessireebob! The old me would have looked at these teams’ regular season matchups: a 116-101 Smocks victory in November, a 111-104 Blazers victory in December, a 126-113 Pet Rocks victory in January, and a “pretty devastating” 118-113 Blazer overtime loss in March, and determined that the Blazers’ crummy defense (107.4 points surrendered per hundred possessions, 22nd in the league) is going to have trouble keeping up with the Lockets’ atomic powered spread screen and roll attack (111 points per hundred possessions, 4th in the NBA.). BUT THE NEW ME is looking at that Damian Lillard guy and saying “Hey, who can guard that dude!?” Now that point guard P-Lick Blurry has been arrested by the NSA!
JOE: *imagining P-Lick Blurry being waterboarded in a secret prison until he admits that Damian Lillard didn’t actually touch his face that one time* *also grinning*
CORBIN: And hey, the old me might point out that Sugar Land stars Fright High-Fjord and Japes Hard-Ones averaged FIFTY FIVE AND A HALF POINTS against the Blazers this year and that Robin Lopez doesn’t have the horizontal foot speed to guard them on screen and rolls or the strength to cover Delight in post-ups. But the new me, the me that is a hit with the ladies and a friend to all my brosephs, thinks, “Hey that Lames Larden with his, frankly, girly flopping and his ‘shooting into contact’ and ‘gunning for high value shots, like threes and foul shots’ might seem useful to eggheads, but is it really honest? And do people really win sports championships when they’re dishonest? Not to mention that D’Wait How-Weird character–so what if he looked terrific this year after his mishaps in LA? Give me a tough dude who scowls all the time, like that Kendrick Perkins, WHO HAS A RING over some JOKER who “gets an insane number of rebounds” or “blows up pick and rolls” or “blocks shots at the rim.” If he had a winner’s attitude, would he want Kobe to yell at him? Isn’t that how JOBS work? Isn’t Chamber Parsnips a little PRETTY to go all the way?
JOE: Sorry I got kinda lost there in the dream of P’Tricky Boo Fairly getting tortured until he admits that he’s evil. In my dream, the prison was in Illinois and Meyers Leonard was there. He was wearing a mask. He was eating an ice cream cone. But anyways, yeah, so the Blazers are gonna win because they represent a more traditional stereotype of masculinity?
CORBIN: Absolutely. Joe, lemme tell you about men. Men win basketball games, and other games. LaMarcus Aldridge is a man. Damian Lillard: Man. Robin Lopez: a longhair, for certain, but still a man. I crunched some numbers, and the Blazers are worth exactly 5 MUPs more than the Grouseton Flock of Kids; that’s Men Ubove Replacement, Joseph.
JOE: I think I might be the baseline for a replacement-level man. Last night I got a little choked up at the end of Friday Night Lights and then again during Jurassic Park when the one Velociraptor watched the T-Rex kill the other Velociraptor because Velociraptors just seem to value relationships so much and seeing one left to survive alone just tugs at the heartstrings and–HEY! HOW ABOUT THOSE MATCHUPS HUH? YOU THINK LILLARD HANDLES POLICE BEVERAGE’S PRESSURE? WILL LAMARCUS STRUGGLE AGAINST THOSE STRETCHED FOURS OF HOUSTON?
CORBIN: If they can keep from being ground into pesto by the giant spikes on his ass!
JOE: Whose ass are we talking about? And are you sure that’s how you make pesto?
CORBIN: Yes. That Tear-quince Moans character will get starts when he’s not harassing the local homeless, and he’s been like a -200 against the Blazers because LaMarcus dominates Moans’ small and weak body. Home-Free Castle-Pee also has a small and weak body, but he can shoot threes so he’s more useful than Moans. Cranberry Spittoons, a very handsome young man who starts at their other wing is a dilettante power forward who will get minutes against Aldridge. He would probably be able to get LMA out of his comfort zone by shooting all those threes if threes ever went in, in the playoffs. The Blazers could try to matchup and go small with Dorell Wright, if they decide to adopt the coward lifestyle.
JOE: Is there any possibility that the Blazers could convince LaMarcus to play center, thus matching the Rockets small lineups while pulling Howard away from the basket too?
CORBIN: No. If LaMarcus plays center even once, I will regard the series as won.
JOE: If only the Blazers had another 7-foot athlete with a big body and a pretty jump shot who could bang with D’Right Showered on one end and drag him outside on the other end…
CORBIN: Yeah, if only. …wait, what about…
CORBIN AND JOE: MEYERS LEONARD!!!!!
JOE: WHAT IF HIS WHOLE SEASON HAS BEEN A WAY TO HIDE HIS TRUE PURPOSE AS PLAYOFF SECRET WEAPON AND NOW WE WILL SEE HIM UNVEILED IN ALL OF HIS GLORY?
CORBIN: Joe, it’s not a what if, obviously. It’s an “It was.” I mean, Rasheed Wallace would purposely avoid using his post game so that it wouldn’t show up on post-season scouting reports, or that’s what he told people! I can’t believe Meyers sacrificed his regular season stats for the team like this. So brave.
JOE: I hope he gets his own flavor of ice cream at Salt and Straw for such courage and I hope it tastes like the sacrificial blood of a virgin.
CORBIN: Joe, is it possible that you just want Virgin Blood flavored ice cream?
JOE: Enough about me, what role do you see Will Barton playing in this series?
CORBIN: Frankly, I think he will shoot lightning bolts of of his fingers and guide the ball into the basket.
JOE: Ooooh, I read about that in his Draft Express profile.
CORBIN: I am a little worried about Nico Batum assassinating the mayor of Boosieton in the name of French independence from British rule. The Mayor of Boosieton is a member of the Royal Family.
JOE: Sorry I don’t see how that’s a concern. What I’m seeing is a girly basketball team inhabited by under-replacement level men in a soon-to-be leaderless dystopia, while the Blazers will have Meyers Leonard shedding his Clark Kent act and Will Barton shooting laser beams from his fingers and LaMarcus making pesto with his ass spikes. I mean, how could the Blazers even lose this series with all of that? My only remaining concern is Mo Williams. This might all hinge on the play of Mo, right?
CORBIN: …you know, I am afraid I don’t know who that is, and I need to get to a Bar Mitzvah and I forgot how to use Basketball Reference altogether. Hella gone! *Jumps out of window*