Say hello to “The Pinhweel.”
If a ridiculous hand sign can work for Diamond Dallas Page, the Crips, Ronnie James Dio, the Texas Longhorns, and Jay-Z, it might as well work for the Portland Trail Blazers. Given that the Blazers surrounding cast is already a mixed bag of larger-than-life personalities (The Hippie, Free Throw Guy, DarthBlazer, Travis Diener), might as well give the Portland faithful it’s very own hand gesture. “The Pinhweel” can be thrust into the heavens as a proud act of fandom, flashed across the number six Trimet bus to a fellow Blazer fan (like a secret handshake), and perhaps it will replace Rudy Fernandez’s three digit celebration after he drains a three-pointer (that is, if he ever hits one again). Think of it as a less annoying, and far less insulting to Native Americans, Tomahawk Chop.
It’s “The Pinwheel,” and do with it what you will.
Now on to the game: How much homecourt advantage do the Blazers really have? Certainly not as much as last season, where Portland’s 34-7 record inside the house that Paul Allden’s money built was fourth best in the league (although no one bothered telling the Houston Rockets that). This season the Blazers reside on the other end of the spectrum, possessing the worst homecourt record (24-17) of any Western Conference playoff team. While there is something to be said for the deafening volume of this sanctuary of inflatable boom stick yielding Blazer faithful, the pair of upcoming Rose Garden games will not come easy for the Blazers.
Following the results of game one, Alvin Gentry adjusted in a big way. Now it’s your turn, Nate McMillan. If there ever was a time for McMillan to show the Coach of the Year voters (Third place!?!) that he deserved better, it’s tonight. Adjustments need to be made on every inch of the hardwood, from Andre Miller being blanketed by Grant Hill for all 94 feet of the court, to Portland’s inability to clog the lane in game two. Since both the Suns and Blazers rely on tempo (the Suns like it fast and furious, while the Blazers prefer the leisurely sunday driver approach), the opening minutes of the game are everything. Nothing good can from Nash hitting the double digit mark in assists before the half.
For now, everything hinges on this game. If Portland wins, game two was just a fluke, an off-night loss that they didn’t really need in the first place. The Blazers would have the homecourt advantage and momentum on their side. But if the Suns win, panic. All homecourt advantage vanishes for Portland, and the team knows that it will have to win in Phoenix one final time. No one wants that.