Some teams with some work to do
Late night. Early morning. At least there wasn’t some stupid-early wakeup call to catch some delayed flight.
Watching the Blazers capitulate to the Suns with alarming ease, one thing was hammered home: Portland has no one who commands even a consistent double-team and if you don’t have that, it’s virtually impossible to get really flowing offensively and win games.
I like a lot about the Blazers – a healthy Brandon Roy is a joy to watch control a game and the wings are okay in an up-tempo game – but there is some work to do before they can take that proverbial “next step.”
LaMarcus Aldridge is a pretty good player but the Suns got away with playing him straight up for most of the night – as most teams do – and that allowed Phoenix to stay home on the rest of the Blazers, and not have their defence scrambling all the time.
Marcus Camby and Juwan Howard are vets who know how to play but they are hardly over-powering offensive forces and, for some reason, Rudy Fernandez has turned into Marco Belinelli – an exciting player with multiple skills who simply cannot get untracked for any length of time – and that’s been killing Portland.
I think the series could well be over in Game 6, even the raucous crowd at the Rose Garden may not be enough to salvage a game for the Blazers and then there has to be some moves made in the Pacific Northwest for Portland to maintain its place in the pecking order, let alone move up.
What a disappointing end in Charlotte, wasn’t it?
First, there are all kinds of questions about the future of peripatetic coach Larry Brown, who may be eyeing are a return to Philly – where his wife and young family have lived all along. Forget all the denials floating around, there’s some substance to the chatter and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he leaves.
And then they go out with a whimper against the Magic, swept away and with many questions to be answered.
They have no low post presence whatsoever, with all due respect to Theo Ratliff, Tyson Chandler and Nazr Muhammed, and their point guard issues are serious with Ray Felton an unrestricted free agent and not all that good in the series, anyway.
And while it’s all nice and good to see Michael Jordan sitting next to the bench alternating between cheering and wearing a chagrined expression, you wonder how that team’s going to improve over the course of the summer.
After all, MJ’s track record as an NBA exec is, in a word, brutal.
Kwame Brown, Adam Morrison, Leonard Hamilton. That, my friends, is a litany of disaster that makes Rob Babcock look like Red Auerbach.
I don’t know what exactly is going to transpire in Charlotte but I don’t think there’s reason for any Bobcats fan to be brimming with optimism.
We’ve been through a lot of the surprises in this year’s NBA playoffs talking about individual players and the Oklahoma City Thunder but, I have to tell you, nothing has really surprised me more than the Utah Jazz.
They don’t have the injured Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur blows out an Achilles and still they lead the Denver Nuggets 3-1.
They start a handful of guys relatively unheard of – I don’t imagine there are a lot of Kyrylo Fesenko fans among us – and Carlos Boozer has been banged up with some rib issues almost the entire series.
They get a tough, tough out in Denver in the first round and I’m sure a lot of people thought that series would be the most one-sided in West when Okur went out.
But, Deron Williams has been other-worldly so far and if there’s a better, all-around point guard in the NBA today, I’m going to have to be pretty heavily swayed.
The thing about Williams is that he’s almost a mirror image of his coach in that all he does is compete hard and get the job done. There’s not a whole lot of style but an immense about of substance to his game and he probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves.
But he wins. A lot.
We got through the in-game blog thing last night with no issues and I’m glad to report there were about 500 hearty souls who checked in for the late game. Way to go.
And we’ll give it another shot tonight for the Spurs-Mavs at 9:30 p.m., and hopefully we get a good game.
See you then, right?
When someone asked me last night during the game whether I could see a resemblance between Andre Miller and Richard Pryor and it brought memories flooding back.
Way back in 1999, when I was still in the “oh, boy, it’s the run-up to the NBA draft” stage of my career, when Miller came in for his workout, the first thing I thought – and so did Danny Devito of the Sun -- was he had to be related to one of the unsung great stand-ups of his generation.
But then it got weirder because a few days later, or sometime in that same process, the Raptors had in Jason Terry and a young Jason Terry bore a striking resemblance to Jerry Rice.
Neither of them looked enough like an NBA player, however, as the Raptors made their boldest draft-day move that year, swapping No. 5 for Antonio Davis and taking Alexander Radojevic with the No. 11 selection.
Wonder what would have happened had Miller not gone No. 8 and Terry No. 10 in that draft, though.
The No. 9 pick? Why, none other than Shawn Marion.
The NFL draft is over, right? Must be since on the TV last night I saw an ad for the CFL draft sometime soon and if they drag out a red carpet and do 500 hours of TV coverage I may lose it.
And I wonder just who Canada’s version of Mel Kiper is? Do we have one?
Hey, remember last week when one of the Irregulars brought it to our attention that the one and only Oliver Miller was playing in the PBL Finals for something called the Lawton Fort Sill Cavalry against the Rochester something-or-others in the championship series.
Well, check this official league release to find out just what Oliver was up to. Yep, suspended for the rest of the season for a contretemps with some fans in Rochester.
Anyway, it’s not only Miller (and if anyone here calls him The Big O they shall forever go on the poop list since it’s sacrilege) who’d be familiar to old-time NBA fans.
Yep, that’s the legendary Michael Ray Richardson who’s coaching the Cavalry, too.