Jerryd Bayless should start Game 5 over Brandon Roy.
Yeah, I said it. The All-Star, All-Everything for Portland should come off the bench in this pivotal game. Brandon Roy has returned to the Blazer lineup and given an unbelievable lift. Emotionally he’s given his teammates a surge. Make no doubt about it his presence has had a calming, reassuring effect on this team. He’s given them their swagger back. Guys are playing with more determination and confidence. In terms of X’s and O’s he’s opened things up in a big way. All series long we’ve talked about adjustments…in a sense B-Roy was the trump card of adjustments. All that attention Phoenix was paying to LaMarcus Aldridge and Andre Miller now goes to him. There is a reason LaMarcus said ‘Thank God, he’s back’.
And he should still come off the bench.
Here’s why. I think starting him this soon puts way too many expectations on him. I’m not going to lie, the idea of guys deferring to Roy scares me a little bit. Not to say that would happen, but I like the idea early of establishing LaMarcus Aldridge. I’m also not entirely comfortable with the idea of Roy out there to start a game where Phoenix will be looking to force the tempo and get out in transition more than they have all series. Roy’s knee seems to be a-ok but his conditioning is not. From that standpoint, there is no need to over-exert him early when we don’t have too.
Starting Roy could possibly take away some of his impact. Now obviously Phoenix is going to have to pay attention to him regardless when he’s on the court. However, at the start of the game teams generally have more energy, more focus, etc. There is a better chance that they will be ready for Roy right off the bat. And if that were to happen, it’s not like Portland is getting an upgrade off the bench. Roy coming off the bench, in this series, gives Portland a major lift. I’ll take Roy coming in fresh against Jason Richardson whose been in for 5-6 minutes.
There is no arguing that Nate McMillan’s decision to start Jerryd Bayless over Rudy Fernandez was a sound one. Not to pile on Rudy Fernandez but simply put he was not ready to make Phoenix pay for putting Steve Nash on him. Phoenix was able to hide Steve Nash on defense because of it. On the other hand, Jerryd Bayless has the skill set to not only make Steve Nash guard him but to punish him as well. Nash struggles with quick guards who like to penetrate. We all know Bayless can penetrate. Also, starting him with Miller gives Portland two playmakers out there. He gives Miller a pressure release when he faces that full-court pressure and can still get the offense going. We all know Roy’s conditioning is off, no need for him to over-exert himself early by constantly having to bring the ball up. Bayless also has proven that he can guard Steve Nash, which allows Batum to go on Richardson/Hill.
For Portland to succeed in this series, they need production from Jerryd Bayless. They need him to be in attack mode, to penetrate, to create. In the two games Portland has won, he’s done just that. Starting him gives him the best chance to succeed. He can get into a rhythm and put pressure on Phoenix’s defense in the early stages of a game. He can pressure Nash and get him to use a little extra energy. One of the keys to Bayless being effective is him making the Suns defense respect him. The Phoenix defense is more likely to dare him to be a jump-shooter when he comes in cold off the bench than at the start of a game. They won’t do that to Brandon Roy regardless.
Starting Bayless keeps his swagger up, which if anything is a key to his game. You saw the fire he played with in Game 4, you want that guy to show up in Game 5 right? Why switch it up when you’ve got a good thing going is what I’m saying. In 11 games as a starter this year he’s averaged 12.6 points, 3.3 assists, shot 42% from the field and gotten to the line 4 times. All of those numbers are above his average, which says generally speaking when he starts he produces.
Starting Bayless puts Portland in a win-win situation of sorts. You get a chance to see what Bayless is going to provide on that night. If he’s getting to the bucket, making Nash work on both ends, it’s a positive. If he struggles you get to bring in Brandon bleeping Roy. We still don’t know if Roy’s minutes are being limited by the doctors, although I’d imagine they are. I’d rather have a situation where Roy is able to be in the game late than waste his minutes early. I think Nate can control that better if he doesn’t start him, sometimes coaches forget about guys out there. Now once Roy gets his sea legs under him, this story changes but that does not mean it should be rushed. Despite the fact that with every game he should get stronger, I’m still pumping my brakes when it comes to putting expectations on B Roy. In my eyes he’s done enough already. Give B-Roy one more game to ease back into things and start him when he’s ready. What’s the worse that could happen?
(Oh gosh don’t answer that..)