Blazers/Knicks Pre-Thoughts


After what felt like forever, the Blazers will return to the court to (hopefully) aid themselves (and us) in washing away that one loss from Friday night. The opponent: The New York Knicks. And if it makes you feel better the Knicks also lost to Oklahoma City in OKC. More on the Knicks in a second. If you look at the schedule this opens up a very key stretch of games for the Blazers. Over the next two weeks, Portland gets 5 of their next 6 games at home and 5 of their next 6 games against teams with sub .500 records. The road game won’t be a bunny (at Golden State) and neither will beating Atlanta at home…but it’s a key stretch. We’ll talk about it more as the All-Star Break approaches, but Portland has to find a way to go 5-1 at the very least over the next 6 games. And not only that, there has to be some progress made. Up until now we’ve been able to make positive steps in the right direction, that absolutely has to continue in the next couple weeks.

To the game. This game scares me. Well more importantly, the magic known as Mike D’Antoni’s offense scares me. I said it though and I meant it. In a correct world, Portland should beat New York. I’ll illustrate why. But my confidence, my “swagger” is a little shaken after the Thunder stomped us left and right. You look at New York and if they bring their A game they are the type of team that can give Portland fits. Especially with the leaky defense that’s been around as of late. They put up a lot of three’s, they get up a lot of shots, they play a fast pace, they penetrate. They can score. We’re going to have to figure out how to keep guys in front ASAP or this could be another long night. But then again if we just play Blazer Basketball this should be a win. As you can see the Thunder loss is driving me bonkers.

(Hopefully when Nate went to Corvallis last night to watch his son Jamelle and ASU beat on Oregon State he picked up some defensive schemes. What an awful game that was if you saw it.)

The Knicks come into this game on a 3-game losing streak. All three dropped at home. All three very public beatings. All three misleading. To say they are looking for blood would be an understatement. Last week was a hell week. LA, Cleveland and Boston. Kobe, LeBron and the C-3. All at home. Not to mention that Kobe and LeBron just toyed with you and Paul Pierce then did his best to try to keep up. Guys out there, if you have a girlfriend there is a chance that last week you were forced to watch 2 hours of the Bachelor, 2 hours of Grey’s Anatomy/Private Practice and got roped into going to see ‘He’s Not That Into You’. That’s almost the basketball equivalent of what the Knicks went through and you’re kidding yourself if they aren’t thanking the lucky stars it’s only the Blazers and not an elite team anymore.

(Why is the three-game losing streak misleading? 1) They lost to three elite teams. 2) They won 6 of their last 7 before that including wins over Phoenix, Atlanta and Houston. Just saying.)

The Knicks bring a somewhat balanced yet frenzied attack to the Rose Garden tonight. Everyone on this team can do a little something so you have to play good team defense for 48 minutes to win. Chris Duhon will more than likely name his first, second and third sons ‘Mike’ or ‘D’Antoni’ in gratitude for that man changing his entire career. His penetration scares me and I never thought I’d be fearful of Chris Duhon. David Lee is a beast and a half and if you don’t have a basketball man-crush on you than I don’t know what to tell you. Al Harrington is going to shoot. A lot. Wilson Chandler is the kind of slashing, athletic wing that we can struggle with. And Nate Robinson is going to shoot. A lot. That being said they don’t have much size so we can punish them inside as we did in the first meeting (out-rebounded 54-36). They also don’t play much defense. If Portland can bring their game they should win. It’s a game they have to.

Keys to success:

  • Bring the energy and effort. You’re at home. You just lost to the Thunder by a lot. Enough said.
  • Don’t fall into the D’Antoni Trap. If we try to play a fast-paced game with these guys we’re toast because that’s just what D’Antoni does the best. He could coach the WNBA All-Stars to a 25-57 record in the NBA. Run when the opportunities are there but don’t just start jacking up shots left and right.
  • Play something resembling defense. Please.
  • Take advantage of their lack of an inside presence. I think I worded that the best I could. LaMarcus should have a highly efficient game if not a big game. I expect nothing from Oden right now. Pryzbilla should get rebounds. Outlaw, Roy and Bayless should be able to attack the basket and finish or get to the line with no shot-blocking or altering presence inside. Attack. Not to mention the Knicks will turn jumpshots into transition opportunities.
  • Keep New York under 100 points. This is two-fold. First off the Knicks are 1-14 when they are held under 100 points. Gross right? Secondly the Blazers are 3-13 when we give up 100 or more points. Double gross. The problem is New York was able to put up 100+ against LA, Boston and Cleveland. We aren’t even in the same defensive paragraph with those teams.

So tonight we find out if Portland is able to shake out of this funk with a return home and take care of business against a team it should win against. Or will this funk continue and we limp into the All-Star Break? Let’s hope not.