Game Day Preview: Blazers at Cavs

Pulling myself away from March Madness for a minute to post a blog about the game tonight.  For the second time this year, the Blazers will get a shot at Lebron James and the league leading Cavs, this time in Cleveland.  Let’s hope Lebron is a little distracted, knowing that his old high school coach and Akron will be in for a battle tonight against the Gonzaga Bulldogs.  Just maybe he won’t have his “A” game because of it.  Truth is, I’m thinking the Blazers will need a lucky break like this since they’re playing without Batum and maybe even Aldridge, who were both injured in last night’s game vs. the Pacers.  Right now, Aldridge is listed as questionable after getting a concussion and Batum is out for sure with an ankle injury.  

Which means that tonight all eyes will be on my man Outlaw.  He’ll be matched up against the freakishly athletic Lebron James and will most likely have his hands full.  However, I’m predicting that he’ll rise to the challenge and that he and Roy will carry the team in what will hopefully be a very close game.  This could be a solid statement game for the Blazers and the Western conference in general if they can beat the East’s leading team.  Let’s hear it for a big OWNED tonight as Portland represents.  

Hopefully I won’t have to eat my words later.

(photo courtesy of Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Game Day Preview: Blazers at Pacers

Ok Blazer fans, let’s hear your thoughts.  I’m predicting a solid Blazer’s win tonight in Indiana.  They almost lost to the Pacers at home in their last match up and I don’t think they’ll want to keep this one nearly as close.  Hopefully they can also build on their last game’s momentum.  It usually helps when the other team has a couple of their best players out, too.  Money!

Currently sitting at 5th in the conference, the Blazers could really end up with any seed for the playoffs.  This is because the 3 teams behind them are all within only 1.5 games.  Yikes!  Now is crunch time and they really need to step up and act more experienced than their age.  Hopefully McMillan can get them ready to play tonight, instead of scaring them half to death.  I swear, the Blazers look way too jittery all the time, like they’re too afraid to make a mistake on the court.  Play tough, drive to the hole, and please… play some D.  Go Outlaw!  

By the way, Oden is listed as active tonight.  I’m assuming he’ll be coming off the bench and will only play limited minutes, but this is still great news.  Joel has been on a tear lately, but getting some help down low will be huge for both our defense and team rebounding.  Now lets just hope he doesn’t get a 3rd knee injury.  I better see some knee pads out there tonight!

A Reflection On This Blazers Season So Far

Well, they’ve gotten over the hump.  With the win last night over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Blazers have now officially already won more games this year than last year’s total.  Additionally, this will end up being the first winning season in six years for them.  Holla.  Not bad for the second youngest team in the NBA if you ask me.  I mean, it’s not like I’m expecting them to win a championship this year, so in my opinion, this year has been quite the success.  It’s all about baby steps, right Bob?  The last four years or so, the Blazers have won 10 games or more every year.  Let’s just keep that up.

Now, to last night.  The Blazers had looked pretty disappointing after a loss at home to the Dallas Mavericks and then another loss on the road to the Atlanta Hawks, but they really stepped it up against a Grizzlies team that had just beaten Detroit at home.  Player of the game? LA, hands down.  He helped the Blazers blow open a lead in the first quarter that Memphis was never able to overcome.  

On another note, it was nice seeing Jaryd Bayless getting the promotion to 2nd string, taking over Sergio Rodriguez’s spot.  Not that he deserved it, but I think he has the potential to be a much better player.  He’s still just a rookie, though, and hasn’t been getting stable enough minutes to gain any sort of confidence in himself or his shot.  Is he playing out of position?  Is he even a true point guard?  We’ll see.  In the meantime, though, maybe the Blazers should consider picking up someone else in this year’s draft.  Can anyone say Darren Collison?

Photo courtesy of OregonLive.com

Martell Says He’ll Be Back in April

Apparently Martell IS coming back this year.  I thought I had recently read that he would be out the rest of the season, but I guess I was mistaken.  Now the question is, how should we feel about this news?  Of course it’s great because Martell is a skilled, young player, but I have my concerns, too.  

First of all, Martell has only played 5 minutes this entire season.  This means he’ll probably come back a little rusty and out of shape.  Plus, it might take some time for him to adjust to the new team chemistry that has developed while he’s been out.

Also, while I hate to kick a dead dog, Martell is primarily a jump shooter and my opinion is that the last thing the Blazers need right now is more jump shooting.  I think the Blazers are at their best when they’re aggressively driving to the hole and playing tenacious team defense.  

That being said, welcome back Martell.  

In closing, I’ll totally contradict what I just said about Martell only being a jump shooter and I’ll leave you with a sick dunk of his from last season.  Faced!

Reaction To Blazers/Lakers Game

Trevor Ariza Flagrant 2 Foul on Rudy Fernandez

Trevor Ariza Flagrant 2 Foul on Rudy Fernandez

 

It’s looking like most of the drama from the past few days is beginning to pass.  Rudy Fernandez is ok, Lamar Odom was suspended, everything’s cool, right?  Wrong.  All we really have now is a big “thank you” to give to Stu Jackson for permitting the completely uncalled for flagrant foul by Trevor Ariza on Rudy.  By not penalizing Ariza more for his actions, Jackson is basically saying that it’s ok to try to hurt someone on the other team, but only if it’s late in the game and only if you’re getting your asses handed to you (Lakers were down by about 30 with only a few seconds left in the 3rd quarter). 

My opinion is that the league needs change the rules on specific fouls, like the one which happened March 9th in the Rose Garden.  There should be no “gray area” for these types of fouls.  If a player is in the air, any sort of contact which results in that player landing in a way that could injure his neck should never be allowed.  The whole excuse of “going for the ball” can really be used for anything.  How long will the league let this go?

Additionally, I believe that more needs to be taken into account than just the foul itself.  For example, as the Lakers were down by about 30, an aggressive foul like this looks more like an emotional foul, something done out of anger or frustration.  Also, while Rudy was lying on the court, trying to breathe, Ariza was busy trying to pick a fight, clearly not apologetic over what he had done.

Should the player at fault for an injury miss just as many games as the player they injured misses?  Not necessarily, but it’s something to think about.  It only seems fair to me, especially if the foul appears to be intentional.  This is where it gets a little tricky, though.  Proving a player’s intent on a foul is too difficult and would be insane trying to uphold on the court.  

In closing, did the league handle this situation incorrectly?  Yes and no.  They followed the rules and it is debatable whether or not a suspension was warranted.  I’m just worried it will take a broken neck before a player’s safety will start being taken more into account.