Today begins the first day of the rest of the season, or however it goes, seems to be the operative phrase for the first Blazers game post Oden operation. This is when Portland begins to forge a new identity, one that should carry them through the season, for success or failure, should they ever find it.
There are few better teams to soul search against than the Knicks. They already have an identity in Mike D’antoni and his offense so they won’t be flipping the script on our expectations, simply moving above or below the median line that they’ve established. Recently they’ve been above, having beaten Phoenix and Atlanta, but as impressive as those wins were, they didn’t raise the bar in New York, they just vaulted it.
More importantly, the Knicks, with the 25th worst defensive rating in the league, aren’t going to stop Portland from doing what it wants, if the Blazers are determined enough to stick to the new gameplan — which is probably not so different from the old gameplan given their inconsistencies. There’s always the danger of getting caught up in running, or getting beat by the run by sending too many players to the offensive boards, but tonight the Blazers will be free to mold themselves with little resistance. But whatever sculpture they come out of things with, a victorious depiction of the pick-and-roll or a drooping idol of perimeter sloth, it won’t be ready for the kiln.
We didn’t make judgments after the first Houston game of the year, so we shouldn’t tonight. Let’s watch and learn. We can’t just assume they will look so very 2007 because other key pieces are out, too. And nobody should be surprised if Brandon Roy drops 40.