For the Blazer faithful this season has been like one long Kübler-Ross exercise in suffering. We have attended to our five stages of grief in the proper order. First it was denial. Sure, Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla have one working knee between the two of them, but the team still has Brandon Roy. They’ll be fine. Then came anger. This was directed at anyone from the token Laker fan complaining about Kobe’s wa-wa-wounded pinky finger, all the way up to yelling out God’s name in vain when you found out that Pryzbilla couldn’t even shower safely. Next was bargaining, a stage made easy by the Clippers’ willingness to bless Portland with Marcus Camby. Then there was depression, the sad reality that this was essentially a wasted season; where the Blazers’ mapped out march towards a championship was stalled out due to a merciless wave of injuries. And finally our current stage: acceptance.
The Suns are the better basketball team. Are they better if Portland was healthy? Would I want to trade rosters? No to both, but right this very second, the Suns are superior. That doesn’t mean Phoenix wins in five, or the Blazers give up (any more than they did Thursday night), but it does need to be said. The Blazers are vulnerable enough to be dominated in back-to-back games not by Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash, but by Jason Richardson and the Suns’ uptempo pace. When your best offensive option is a pass-first guard like Andre Miller, perhaps it’s time to accept your role.
This is not reason to hang our collective heads. The Blazers still have plenty of life in them, are clearly capable of winning inside the US Airways Center, and have proven countless times this season that they play their best basketball when the chips are down. If there is any temporary reprieve from the grief of this season, it can come with a Blazers’ victory today.
Tip-off: 1:30 pm
Las Vegas Line: Suns -2.5
TrueHoop Network Blog: Valley of the Suns