I didn’t get a chance to watch all of Game 2 until this morning, and as soon as I’m done, I hop back online to see Hardwood Paroxysm’s Rob Mahoney absolutely nailing the tail on the storyline:
It’s powerful and it’s shaking, largely because the status quo as it were only acted as a mechanism for the reveal to manifest itself. Miller wants you to think that he’s incapable of being a force, so he can can blow by you on his way to the rim by using the quickest slow (or is it slowest quick?) first step in the league. Aldridge wants you to think that he’s incapable of providing star-level offensive production as a primary option, so he can toss turnaround jumpers over your head from the low block, drop 20+, and call it a day. Camby will lurk behind on the break to rock a weak layup attempt, or emerge from the darkness to contest an otherwise open look.
The only problem is that once everything is in full view, the power of the reveal is gone. Portland may have caught Phoenix by surprise in game one, but now that the Suns know the secret, the result will never be the same again. That initial reaction can never be quite replicated, regardless of how expertly the Blazers execute.
Those two paragraphs might end up defining this entire series. The Blazers have surprised us, and opponents, again and again and again, but never have they had to do it against the same team four times in a row. So while the Suns have the health and talent to make continual adjustments, the Blazers are often going to be searching for that something special — Andre Miller scoring 30+, Camby doing the same, Bayless being huge off the bench, Aldridge commanding double teams for 48 minutes — to combine forces with a superior effort level and squeeze out some more wins.
This isn’t a condemnation of the Blazers. But think back to all those unexpected shorthanded wins this season. Almost every time, there was someone different stepping up multiple floors, or an expertly designed and executed defensive strategy keeping an opponent off balance. If, as Mahoney so cleverly explains, you’re opponent has already seen the beast and it’s nature, you end up needing to rely back on your talent level. And yes, the Blazers have the talent to win more games, especially at home, but they’re still going to need one of the Webster, Bayless, Rudy crew to rise to the occasion — especially if Batum is out.
And good lord, if the Blazers could get anything at all out of Rudy, Portland would look a tad more like the Predator than the dog-like Alien.