16 December 2009
You best buckle up. This is the kind of Portland Trail Blazers basketball we can pretty much expect the rest of the season.
The 95-88 win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night at the Rose Garden is living proof of what it means for a team to play “scrappy”, even while riding Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge on to victory.
What else do you expect from nine guys?
“We’ve gone from a team that was big and athletic to a team that is small and doesn’t have the athleticism a Travis (Outlaw) or Rudy (Fernandez) brings to the lineup,” said Nate McMillan.
In the next five games – home with Phoenix, at Orlando,at Miami, at Dallas, at San Antonio – the Blazers face their toughest challenge by far of the season to this point, aside from the endless injuries that is.
The Suns and Mavs are two of the better teams out West, and you can never count out the Spurs. In the East, the Magic remain a true contender, while the Heat sit in the middle of the pack of teams that would qualify for the postseason.
Here is the number to keep in mind right now: 10 of Portland's 15 wins have come against losing teams.
Even with a healthy squad, these next five games were set to be a true test for the Blazers.
Now Portland hopes to stay afloat as they navigate choppy waters - some very choppy waters.
“We’ve talked about what we need to do to keep us in the race until we can get some of our guys back. That is the focus," McMillan continued.
"You only need five (guys). Part of it is a lot of the guys we play through, we haven’t just lost our ninth and tenth man. We’ve lost starters and a sixth and seventh man. That takes a lot of what you try and do away from you and having to make adjustments with missing a few positions and being loaded with a few positions.
“You have to adapt to your players and the guys you do healthy. They are capable of doing different things and what we’re working on is making that adjustment.”
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