That was…not the most competitive basketball game I’ve seen all year. The Grizzlies look like they’ve pretty much thrown in the towel on the season and are playing for summer (was it just me or did Mike Conley look miserable?). This is where I write that you can’t read too much into this game, but how much are we reading into any game this time of year beyond wins and losses. Blazers get credit for stepping on the visitor’s throats and never letting up, absolutely smashing on the boards (50-28) and keeping B-Roy below 35 minutes while getting Oden some much needed extended-run.
What’s amazing is that both teams shot 41% percent from the field and yet Portland wins by 20. Oh wait, the Blazers got 21 offensive rebounds. Maybe it’s not so amazing. Portland has been steady on the boards for a long time now and it’s something to keep in mind since rebounding is one aspect of the game that translates most clearly to postseason success.
No question game ball goes once again to Aldridge, who, as Mike Rice pointed out, has been playing on another level the last three weeks or so. He’s maturing right before our eyes, folks, and is now combining a dynamic offensive game with the most active defense and glass work of his career and some solid decision making to boot (loved the kickout to Blake and the high-low lob to Oden). LaMarcus has to play like this if we want to win a series.
An underrated thing about the groove this team has carved itself into is the tempo they are playing at. No longer shackled to a strict half-court offense, the guards are making the right decisions when to push the ball and the bigs are throwing quick outlets before the defense can recover. That’s a sign of maturity, yes — I think BlazerDave pointed out the other day that we don’t talk about this as a young team anymore — but also a fine coaching job from Nate.
Ready for another must-win (what isn’t?)? The Jazz are coming up on Tuesday. SJ has a voodoo doll of everyone from the Mailman to Boozer to the guy who wears that license plate around his neck, and it should be a fun one. Heck, the way this team is playing right now, a matchup with Jesuit High School would be a fun one. Tuesday is going to be bleepin’ awesome.