Make no mistake about it, this game is about energy, readiness and effort. Portland has to come out ready from the start against Indiana. At this point in the season, when you play inferior opponents at home a team has to make it more about themselves than about the other team. Portland cannot leave this game to chance when they have a chance to just go out there and take it. Coming out and playing down to their level could result in a W…but it could result in Indiana getting their head up and pulling one out all of a sudden. The Pacers were right there with the Lakers, trailing by only 1 point with 9 minutes left in the third. And then the wheels fell off. Let’s be honest, we all know Portland does not have the margin for error that the Lakers do. This is not a team that can count on being able to turn it on and pull away from teams. Yes, the Blazers have done it in the past. But there have also been times where they have not, and that’s why the home record is 19-13 and teams like Miami and Philadelphia can claim victories in the RG.
By all accounts, the Pacers are a mess. Looking past the 20-40 record and 7-24 record away from Conseco Fieldhouse. They have battled the injury bug all year about as well as slutty girls who give up sex for lent. They come into tonight’s game having lost 8 of their last 10 games and 6 of their last 7 games on the road. Danny Granger has returned to his superstar form so Portland has to look out for him. Troy Murphy is averaging 13.8 points a game, 9.8 boards and shooting 37.7% from behind the arc. After that they are depending on TJ Ford, Dahntay Jones, Injured Mike Dunleavy and Brandon Rush to give them 40 points a game between them. And it sounds like things are not exactly peachy in Hoosierville. Don’t believe me? Check out what Tom Lewis had to say over at Indy Cornrows:
That brave, united front evaporated in a matter of minute during the third quarter of last night’s game. Now the team that has rarely been able to get it together on the court this season, appears to be ripping apart at the seams.
It’s that little passage there that inspired the opening paragraph. This is a team on the ropes. A great start by Portland could TKO them and lead to an easy victory, something the Blazers have sometimes been allergic to this year. I can’t think of too many reasons why Portland should lose this game. They are at home facing an inferior opponent who is struggling. Said opponent is turrible on the road and having issues with effort. I mean the Pacers give up 104.3 points a game and shoot 33 percent from behind the arc. Portland has to guard Granger and Murphy and render them inefficient, but beyond that Indiana does not have a ton of guys that can just demolish you. They are not tremendous shooters. And as long as you don’t settle they can be scored on.
My point is…Playoff teams don’t lose home games in March to a 20-40 team who has only won 7 of 31 games on the road. Point blank.