Jan 20, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) controls the ball during the third quarter as Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) defends at Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Trailblazers 126-113. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Playoffs: Trail Blazers & Rockets – Experience Breakdown


*Playoffs in which the players were present but not active are not included- E.g.: Wright’s championship in 2006 & Howard’s injury absence in 2012*

 

The Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets are preparing to clash in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, but only some of the players have prior experience to draw from. Unfortunately, the Trail Blazers are at a distinct disadvantage in this department. Their dearth of post-season practice doesn’t spell certain doom, but most of the letters are there. It’s just another stacked card in an underdog’s deck. Here’s how the rest of them fall:

 

Portland Trail Blazers playoff experience

Mo Williams (31)
2006 Milwaukee Bucks
2009 Cleveland Cavaliers
2010 Cleveland Cavaliers
2012 Los Angeles Clippers
Furthest gone: Lost in Eastern Conference Finals

Dorell Wright (28)
2007 Miami Heat
2009 Miami Heat
2010 Miami Heat
Furthest gone: Lost in Eastern Conference First Round

LaMarcus Aldridge (28)
2009 Portland Trail Blazers
2010 Portland Trail Blazers
2011 Portland Trail Blazers
Furthest gone: Lost in Western Conference First Round

Nicolas Batum (25)
2009 Portland Trail Blazers
2010 Portland Trail Blazers
2011 Portland Trail Blazers
Furthest gone: Lost in Western Conference First Round

Wesley Matthews (27)
2010 Utah Jazz
2011 Portland Trail Blazers
Furthest gone: Lost in Western Conference Semifinals

Earl Watson (34)
2004 Memphis Grizzlies
2005 Memphis Grizzlies
Furthest gone: Lost in Western Conference First Round

Robin Lopez (25)
2010 Phoenix Suns
Furthest gone: Lost in Western Conference Finals

No playoff experience:
Joel Freeland (26)
Victor Claver (25)
Damian Lillard (23)
Will Barton (23)
Thomas Robinson (22)
C.J. McCollum (22)
Meyers Leonard (21)
Allen Crabbe (21)

 

Houston Rockets playoff experience

Dwight Howard (28)
2007 Orlando Magic
2008 Orlando Magic
2009 Orlando Magic
2010 Orlando Magic
2011 Orlando Magic
2013 Los Angeles Lakers
Furthest gone: Lost in NBA Finals

Josh Powell (31)
2006 Dallas Mavericks
2007 Golden State Warriors
2009 Los Angeles Lakers
2010 Los Angeles Lakers
2011 Atlanta Hawks
Furthest gone: Won in NBA Finals

James Harden (24)
2010 Oklahoma City Thunder
2011 Oklahoma City Thunder
2012 Oklahoma City Thunder
Houston Rockets 2013
Furthest gone: Lost in NBA Finals

Omer Asik (27)
2011 Chicago Bulls
2012 Chicago Bulls
2013 Houston Rockets
Furthest gone: Lost in Eastern Conference Finals

Francisco Garcia (32)
2006 Sacramento Kings
2013 Houston Rockets
Furthest gone: Lost in Western Conference First Round

Jordan Hamilton (23)
2012 Denver Nuggets
2013 Denver Nuggets
Furthest gone: Lost in Western Conference First Round

Dexter Pittman (26)
2012 Miami Heat
Furthest gone: Won in NBA Finals

Chandler Parsons (25)
2013 Houston Rockets
Furthest gone: Lost in Western Conference First Round

Jeremy Lin (25)
2013 Houston Rockets
Furthest gone: Lost in Western Conference First Round

Patrick Beverley (25)
2013 Houston Rockets
Furthest gone: Lost in Western Conference First Round

Donatas Motiejunas (23)
2013 Houston Rockets
Furthest gone: Lost in Western Conference First Round

Terrence Jones (22)
2013 Houston Rockets
Furthest gone: Lost in Western Conference First Round

No playoff experience:
Omri Casspi (25)
Robert Covington (23)
Isaiah Canaan (22)
Troy Daniels (22)

 

Of the Portland starters, only Lopez and Matthews have made it out of the first round. Aldridge and Batum have only experienced first round exits, while Lillard has no playoff experience whatsoever. That last part concerns me greatly. As an all-star point guard, Lillard has been depended upon as a leader thus far, but he’s approaching uncharted territory. If anyone can rise to the occasion, it’s him, but his inexperience has potential to be a serious weakness.

Of the Houston starters, both all-stars (Howard & Harden) have been to the NBA Finals. The rest of them are young, but got a taste of the playoffs last season. Even the bench boasts two ring bearers (Powell & Pittman) to Portland’s one (Wright). The real kicker, though, is that they have half as many completely inexperienced players as the Trail Blazers. Although the Rockets won’t play deep enough to rely on the bottom of their barrel, the Trail Blazers will have to put their fate in untried hands since more than half of their roster has never played in the post-season.

It will not be impossible for the Trail Blazers to advance by any stretch, but remember to account for history when examining the present. Most inexperienced teams are first round fodder until they can drop that qualifier. Of course, there are borderline exceptions (2012 Thunder), so prematurely abandoning hope would be ludicrous. I’m excited to see how far this Trail Blazers team can go. Maybe they will continue to surprise us.

 

 

Tags: Damian Lillard Dwight Howard Featured James Harden Nba Playoffs Popular Portland Trail Blazers

  • Karen

    Why are there 16 names for the Rockets when each team is allowed only 15 players?

    • David MacKay

      Very observant, Karen. If my understanding is correct, it is because Isaiah Canaan is with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the D-League at the moment, which allowed them to sign Dexter Pittman in his stead.

  • Draftdog

    Realistically the Blazers have a chance to beat the Rockets in a seven game series. The largest diminishing factor for that chance is Dwight Howard. If he brings it all, and that is a big if. He has the physical tools, the size, talent and skill to dominate basketball. He rarely does that however. If he is just playing ball and having fun, the Blazers have a very good chance. If he plays with abandon, with winning as his only desire for four of the seven games, then the Blazers chances are slim. Because the last couple of years have been engulfed in turmoil and injury, people forget what a dominate force he can be.

  • Draftdog

    As usual a very informative piece. Much more pertinent than most of the ramblings the big time sports writers/broadcasters. One thing I would like to put out there for others to critique. Who is going to guard Harden, when Stotts goes to Williams and Lillard in the back court? Offensively this is a very workable paring. Defensively it is a nightmare for Lopez and Aldridge. All I can say is Barton is the best defensive guard they have. Give him some minutes.

    • David MacKay

      That is a very good question. I suspect Batum will log heavy minutes to help out in this circumstance, as he has in the past, though Barton may be a feasible option when fatigue sets in.

      • Draftdog

        Then who guards Parsons? Williams? Of course that combination may not be on the floor, but weakening the 3 to guard the 2? Seems counter productive to me. During the regular season the combination of Lillard and Williams in the same backcourt won games despite the poor defense. In the playoffs this may not be a formula for success.