19 April 2010
No Brandon Roy. No Problem.
Out of all the Playoff games this weekend, to end with Portland stealing Game 1 in Phoenix is only fitting. The Blazers have overcome all season long, so why would that change just because the postseason started?
For Nate McMillan to get what he got out of Andre Miller and LaMarcus Aldridge probably shouldn’t come as a shock. When Roy missed those two weeks in late January and early February, those two guys held it down. They did the same and more versus the Suns on Sunday night, thanks to a little timely shooting and textbook defense by Nicolas Batum.
But this series is long from over.
You know Alvin Gentry is going to make his adjustments – which should feature more pick and roll situations with Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire. They didn’t go to that enough. Instead, Phoenix lived and died by the three (11-32) like they have all season long.
Yet McMillan and the Blazers have adjustments of their own to address.
What immediately comes to mind is the dilemma at shooting guard between Rudy Fernandez and Martell Webster. In would be one thing if one or the other busted out a decent game, but it just didn’t happen. At least Webster's defense was something to build upon. Not so for Rudy. In Game 1, Jerryd Bayless factored himself into the shooting guard discussion minus Roy, with 18 points off the bench. Those were his best numbers since a March 7 loss at Denver when Bayless went for 24 points. Fernandez and Webster on the other hand combined for 10 points on 4-13.
Is that enough for McMillan to shake up his starting five?
Probably not. There's really no need to.
Expect McMillan to stick with Rudy at the two to start. But if he’s not getting it going early, that’s where McMillan has to make the adjustment. Does he stick with Webster or let Bayless break down Phoenix’s interior defense in Game 2? Saving Webster to relieve Batum would be the next logical move.
That's a good look. Gives Portland another inside (Bayless driving to the rim) out (Martell spotting up for a three) option if it came to that.
Right now though, you have to believe Bayless has worked his way back into McMillan’s good graces after that performance in Game 1. And boy has he fallen out of the offensive favor the past month. In fact, there were times in the game where Bayless certainly looked out of rhythm in Game 1. We’ve seen that a lot lately. But once he found his groove, Bayless stayed there.
If it’s not broke, Portland isn’t going to try to fix it.
And they’ve been broken many times this season.
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