Blazers/Suns Game 3: The Fallout

Portland Trail Blazers Bayless and Fernandez cduring the first half of NBA Western Conference playoff series in Portland

I don't have a funny caption, this just made me smile. (Source: YardBarker.com)

Well….That was disheartening.

We could talk about the Xand O’s and rehash what happened and all that. Truth be told I spent most of my time after the game trying to make sure I wouldn’t remember what happened during it (half joke). What I remember the most from last night was just how quickly my emotions changed. It went from being super-hyped and excited, to slightly frustrated, to a sort of jaw-dropping shocked to a 2-3 minute span of just scowling at the TV screen during a commercial in between quarters.

(The scowl didn’t leave)

The last time I felt so disheartened after a Blazer playoff loss was on April 25th, 2003 when Dallas won 115-103 and took the series to 3-0. I mean I was crushed. I was also 16 and still in that period of time when sports meant entirely too much to me than they really should have. Last night’s game was no fun. The creepy parallel between those two games is that then it was Dirk Nowitzki who had 42, and last night it was Jason Richardson.

To tell the truth, when I write this ‘day after’ posts, in my head I’m supposed to be answering the question ‘what now?’ To tell the truth…I’m conflicted. I don’t know how to make this make sense in my head. Two beatdowns in a row means we shouldn’t be sitting here dissecting this series right? Wave the white flag? I go on twitter and what not and that’s that feeling I’m sensing. But I couldn’t fight this feeling in that first quarter that there was still a chance we could beat this team. I mean who knows what happens if Rudy and LaMarcus don’t both pick up 2 quick fouls? Or if a couple of those early jumpers drop? Or if Portland could get off to a good start? Maybe I’m insane, but I think Portland still has a shot. They win Game 4, it’s 2-2, still anyone’s ballgame.

The most impressive part of the last two games has been Phoenix’s defense. Yes, the Phoenix Suns are actually playing defense and I’ll give them credit for it. I can’t recall a time where the Suns have played better defense. Now, on the flipside it’s not all PHX. Give them their due but are we helping them look better than they are? Kind of. It’s a perfect gameplan to shut this wounded team down. Their defense is forcing Portland to take jumpers late in the shot clock. Jumpers to Phoenix’s transition game is like Mountain Dew to a 7-year old. If Portland can score, that right there would limit Phoenix’s ability to get out and run which is half the battle right now.

Coup touched on it a lot in the re-thoughts but Portland is just shackled. All Phoenix has to do is zero-in on Andre Miller and shut down his driving lanes. Then, the throw some random double teams at LaMarcus Aldridge and break up his rhythm. This works because those are the two life sources of the Blazers offense. Then they take it to another level. They are making Jerryd Bayless into a jumpshooter, they are fine with Martell Webster shooting 15 times, zoning when Batum is in and dared him to shoot with that shoulder and Rudy….ah Rudy.

Twitter was exploding with how you say….non-Rudy love. I’m just stepping back because this bonfire does not need anymore fuel. One thing I will touch on and it’s something fascinates me is that people are all like “I can’t believe Rudy can’t score on Steve Nash”. Get this people: Steve Nash is not the worst defensive player ever. He struggles at times when he over helps. He gets murdered by super quick guards or strong guards. Does Rudy enter into either of those categories? Not so much. All Nash has to do is slide his feet and contest jumpers, something he’s capable of doing. It’s just odd that all of a sudden in the playoffs we’re asking Rudy to be something he hasn’t proven he can consistently be. We know he CAN drive but scoring off the dribble is not exactly his strong point. So why, under the toughest conditions (playoff basketball) do we expect he’s just all of a sudden going to turn it up 5 notches? Could he play a lot better? Obviously. But I mean let’s pump the brakes a little bit.

Also..the whole LaMarcus Aldridge is soft thing, no. Is he struggling against consistent double teams? Yep! Is he being a little too hesitant at times, almost waiting for the double team? Yep! Am I still talking in questions? Yep! I mean this isn’t like last year where he just struggled and disappeared. This is his first rodeo being treated like a superstar aka getting gameplanned to be stopped. Remember, Brandon Roy had his struggles last year as well.

(Sidenote: Did you LMA trying to go after Amare? That would have been great if we weren’t getting A-Town stomped.)

Kelly Dwyer, in his Behind the Box Score had the words that explain a lot of my feelings:

“Portland left people open, and they didn’t defend well in transition. I expect that the Trail Blazers will give us a show in Game 4, but the things that made them so scary in Game 1 – sound close-outs, good rebounding, and efficient offense – have gone away.”

And I suddenly realized why I was so frustrated with last night. It wasn’t just getting beat down at home, it wasn’t losing home court advantage. It was that the reason for loss was because of things that were in Portland’s control. I mean we can credit Phoenix and what not, but Portland still had enough in their control to make it more of a battle. I mean leaving Jason Richardson open? Daring the Phoenix Suns to shoot the ball? Watching them outrebound and outhustle us? I mean yeah Phoenix has certain advantages but I never figured they would be outworking us too.

And maybe we as Blazer fans have been spoiled this season. I know…huh? Maybe we’ve been spoiled by the fact that this team has been able to conquer adversity all…season…long. It’s almost like we just expect them to be able to get through it. I mean we’re talking about a team who went through that roller coaster of a season and lost it’s franchise player to injury right before the playoffs. This is still a team to be proud of and there is still plenty of basketball to be played.

Tags: Blazers Game 3 Blazers Suns Game 3 Jason Richardson Jerryd Bayless LaMarcus Aldridge Martell Webster Phoenix Suns Portland Game 3 Portland Trail Blazers Rudy Fernandez Steve Nash Suns Blazers Game 3 Suns Game 3

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