How many thoughts do I really have to have on this one?
Let’s just be honest with each other. A team who really thinks they are about to make a run towards the playoffs and make noise in said playoffs, does not lose to the New Jersey Nets near the end of February. They just don’t. It does not get any realer than that right? I know road trips can be wacky and all of that nonsense, but there is no excuse for this team to go out and lose to the Nets. None. We’re talking about one of the worst teams in the history of the game. And I don’t even mean to be so harsh, I’m just being real. They are awful. Bless their hearts they try but New Jersey cannot put together 30 good minutes let alone a complete 48. Losing to the Nets will be much, much worse of a feeling than blowing that lead to Utah.
New Jersey is inefficient to say the least. Brook Lopez has somehow held it together to average 19 points a game and 9 rebounds. Devin Harris has spent more time frustrating my fantasy team with his injuries and wacky play than actually doing anything else. He’s still averaging 16 points and 6.7 assists. After that? A bunch of inefficient gunners who average just as many field goal attempts as they do points. Yi ‘I’m going to be an All-Star Starter one day and you can’t stop me’ Jianlian is averaging 12 points and 6.8 rebounds on an average of 11 field goal attempts a game. Courtney Lee was supposed to break out this year, but apparently he needed all the talent the Magic had because he’s averaging 11.7 points on 10 field goal attempts a game. Chris Douglas Roberts (11 points/10 field goal attempts), Keyon Dooling (7 points/7 field goal attempts). The list goes on, even Kris Humphries is getting into the act.
How do you beat New Jersey? You either take it to them from the start and remind them they have only won 5 games, or you can wait for them to beat themselves. I’d prefer Portland take the first option. While I just ripped on their talent, Devin Harris and Lopez are surrounded by guys who can score the ball. They don’t always do it, but if Portland let’s them get their heads up…anything can happen on a road trip. It’s not like Portland’s defense has been renowned all year anyways. As much as I’d love to overlook the Nets, they were up 18 in the first half against Memphis in their last game. A game like this is going to test the character and the focus of this team. It will be easy to come out flat against a horrible team in a horrible environment like the IZOD Center. Or they can focus in and take all that frustration out on the Nets. The latter should happen.
I mean, understand this: Portland has won more games on Saturdays (6-5) than the New Jersey Nets have all….year (5). Jay-Z has asked that Nets and Knicks no longer give him high-fives because of the damage to his image. Despite blowing a 25 point lead against Utah, Portland showed signs of life that were being questioned after that Boston game. The road trip doesn’t get much easier after this, as 3 of the 4 remaining opponents have records over .500. Portland has to win this one and get back on the winning track for everyone’s sake.