Archive for February, 2008

3rd Quarter Malaise

Posted in Uncategorized on February 29, 2008 by blazersog

Last Sunday was a difficult day for us at Blazersog.  After jumping out to a 17-point lead against the Celtics, we found the Blazers looking flat in the second half, falling behind by 19 before eventually losing by 10.  Watching the next two games in LA, we noticed a similar trend; play great in the first half, only to come out poorly in the 3rd quarter to let the opponent back into the game, and with the case of the Lakers, allow them to win the game.  We decided to look back to see how long this trend has been happening.  The bad news, its been going on most of February.  Here are the point totals in the 3rd quarter for the Blazers and their opponents in the last nine games:

27-Feb Blazers 16 Clippers 28
26-Feb Blazers 14 Lakers 23
24-Feb Blazers 17 Celtics 32
22-Feb Blazers 22 Sonics 19
21-Feb Blazers 19 Sonics 26
19-Feb Blazers 14 Kings 19
13-Feb Blazers 16 Mavericks 19
11-Feb Blazers 19 Rockets 25
9-Feb Blazers 15 Pacers 20

Over this stretch the Blazers have been averaging 16.9 points in the 3rd quarter.  The only time the team topped 20 points in the 3rd was against the Sonics, (one of the worst defensive teams in the league).  They have been giving up on average 23.4 points, a difference, of 6.56 points.  On top of that, this trend has been getting worse, with the last three games seeing the Blazers losing the 3rd quarter on average by 12 points.

 

The question that remains is why.  Is it coaching?  Are Nate and staff not making the necessary adjustments at halftime to be successful in the 2nd half?  We doubt it.  McMillian is on of the top X’s and O’s coach in the NBA.  We think the major reason why the Blazers are struggling so mightily in the 3rd quarter is fatigue.  The Blazers are the youngest team in the NBA, and for a lot of the players, they are simply hitting a wall. Roy only played in 57 games last season and Aldridge played in 63, but only started in 22.  Tonight marks the 58th game of the 2007-2008 season.  The Blazers can play a strong half of basketball, but a full game this late in the season is uncharted waters for many of the starters on the team, and it shows in how they look tired when they come out in the second half and consistently leave their shots short.  The seven game road trip took its toll on the team in January, and its impact is still being played out today.  Our view is that this is a case of growing pains and adapting to an 82 game season.  What are your thoughts?

 

Von Wafer Scores a Career High!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 28, 2008 by blazersog

Don’t get too excited. He only scored 11 points, but for the newest Blazer who has not seen too much action in the NBA, this was a huge step in becoming a legitimate player in the league. It’s been hard to question the moves the Trailblazers have made since KP took the reigns. This trade that landed Taurean to Denver and Von Wafer to the best city in the world (God, Portland is amazing!) got us thinking about what this young man from Louisiana can do. Hell, if KP bothered getting him here, he must have something special about him. Reading other sports columns about Von Wafer, he seems like an instant offense guy, specializing in 3-pointers. Now, fans, we cannot compare him to James Jones. That would be unfair.022708_wafer_article.jpg In his two years in Florida State, he averaged about 10 points per game (8 points his Freshman year and 12 points during his sophomore year) and led the team in three points made. In 2005, Von Wafer decided to enter the draft and was chosen by the Purple and Gold 9th in the second round. Unfortunately for him, his playing time was close to nil. He was waived by the Lakers and spent time in the NBDL where he faired better than most. While playing for the Colorado 14ers he averaged 21 points per game. The Clippers then picked him up, dropped him, and the Nuggets scooped him right back. His offensive skills have not really been seen in the big leagues, except for this year’s summer league where he was recognized as one of the better players. Wafer averaged 24.2 points while shooting 53 percent from the floor and 44 percent from the three-point range. He even dropped 42 points on the Knicks. One other thing about Von Wafer is that he can play above the rim. This man can dunk. He finished second to LeBron James at the McDonald’s All American High School dunk competition. We don’t see Blazers with skills like these; even Travis Outlaw who can jump practically over anything does not have the creativity this young man possesses. Last night, Von Wafer showed some aggressive moves to the basket, but made some bad decisions with the ball (one instant he forced a shot that could have easily been passed to one of the guards up top resetting the play). His defense is not bad. During a defensive play he swatted the ball 5 rows up with a blocked shot of Vancouver native Dan Dickau. According to the Oregonian’s Joe Freeman, the man wants to work on his D more than anything else. So based on his first game as a Blazer, we could see Coach Nate using him for that instant offense for the white unit. It surely wouldn’t hurt this team to have another perimeter player that can drop the three, opening up space in the middle. This team plays soooooo much better when James Jones is on one corner, Martell on the other and Blake up top playing pass and shoot. That’s not even mentioning Brandon Roy and Travis Outlaw. We would like to see Von Wafer get those minutes that could harness his potential this year and either be a great bench guy for us or a great trading piece. Let’s also keep our fingers crossed that Taurean Green does not turn Chauncey Billups or Steve Nash on us.

West Side Connection

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 27, 2008 by blazersog

Much to the chagrin of the East Coast, the Western Conference of the NBA is home to the most dominant and exciting teams in the league. But after a rash of recent trades the Western Conference has taken on a new look. When basketball historians look back they may very well mark the 2007-08 season as a turning point where the dominant teams of the last decade began to fade and the new crop of Western Conference dominant teams began to emerge.

It is a given that the Blazers’ future looks bright and with a little luck and the right moves are poised to stand as a major player in the Western Conference in the upcoming years. But what other teams stand ready to rise to the top of the Western Conference in the near future? A quick survey of the Western Conference lends some interesting clues to the haves and have-nots of the future.

The Old War Horses

San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs always have and always will be Tim Duncan’s team. As long as Duncan is healthy they have a chance. But Duncan is not getting any younger and although he is still one of the most dominant players in the game he is not what he used to be. Although Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are young, without Duncan they are just a second rate Euro league team that whines a lot. The Spurs are still very dangerous; maybe the most in the West but their days are numbered.

Phoenix Suns: Always the bridesmaid never the bride, the Suns went for broke this season when they mortgaged their future on Shaq. Nash and Shaq are old and have a window of two seasons to make something happen before the wheels come off. Leandro Barbosa and Amare Stoudemire are young talents but Barbosa is unproven as a starter and Stoudemire is always a health risk. The Suns will have to significantly retool if they hope to be more than average in five years.

Dallas Mavericks: Mark Cuban wants to win so he went out and got himself a savvy veteran in Jason Kidd, an old guy who likes to rack up assists and beat his wife. Dirk Nowitzki is a great player but his supporting cast is miserable. Devin Harris was a player of the future but he is gone in the Kidd deal. You can never underestimate Cuban’s willingness to spend to get good players, but five years from now Dirk may be this generation’s Alex English, a big man who can score, plays no defense and is on a losing team.

Should Be Good But For Some Reason Won’t Be

Denver Nuggets: Watching the Nuggets is like seeing Armando Benitez coming in to close a game: you know he is a gas can waiting to blow up and ruin everything, you just don’t know when the match will be lit. Allen Iverson is one tough player but does not have much tread left on the tire. Carmelo Anthony is the most over-rated player in basketball and an ego maniac who holds little promise to ever be a leader of a winning team. About the best thing going for the Nuggets is the home court advantage of the Pepsi Center with the mile high altitude.

Golden State Warriors: This team is a Don Nelson retirement away from being one of the worst teams in the league. Enough said.

Houston Rockets: Tracy McGrady plays no defense and scores a lot of points but is always hurt. Yao Ming will be the best big man in the NBA for about the 5 minutes it takes Greg Oden and Andrew Bynum to come into their own. That leaves Houston being about what they are now: a team who will be fighting for the seven and eight seat every year.

We Suck, For The Most Part Always Have, And Don’t Look To Be Getting Good Any Time Soon

 

Seattle Super Sonics: Until they figure out what city they will be in, get a coach who knows what the hell he is doing and get some players around Kevin Durant, the only thing you can count on the Sonics for is getting lottery picks.

Minnesota Timber Wolves: They had to make the Kevin Garnett trade, too bad they could not have gotten some better talent in return. Al Jefferson is the West’s new Zach Randolph. But hell, maybe Sebastian Telfair will become an All-Star and Jenna Jameson will become a virgin.

Memphis Grizzles: They blew the team up. They will be rebuilding for quite awhile, like 10 years. I don’t even think the Logo can help them anytime soon.

Sacramento Kings: They want a new stadium and won’t get one on the tax payers dime.  So Ace and Gary Maloof want to move the team to Las Vegas. To ensure the team moves the Maloofs will keep the Kings at a sub .500 record until they get the hell out of Sacramento; which, by the way, is pretty much the worst city in the United States behind Gary, Indiana.

 

New Orleans Hornets: I can hear it now, “What the hell are you talking about? They have the best team in the West, how can they suck?” One answer: Chris Paul – as in Chris Paul IS NOT STAYING IN NEW ORLEANS. It is fair to say that whatever team gets Chris Paul becomes an instant contender for an NBA title that is how good he is. Too bad for Hornets fans, that won’t be them. No Paul, no wins.

Los Angles Clippers: They are the Clippers. Donald Sterling is their owner. No more needs to be said.

Future So Bright They Have To Wear Shades

Utah Jazz: Somehow, someway, the Jazz just seem to reload rather than rebuild. The Kyle Korver trade was genius and added the one piece this team was missing. Mehmet Okur, Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams are all young, good and entering into their prime. There is no reason to suspect Williams will want to leave Utah as a free agent. With a great supporting case in Korver, Ronnie Brewer , Jarron Collins and Matt Harping, the Jazz look to be a major player in the years to come. They just might need to get a new coach if they ever want to win a championship.

Los Angles Lakers: Although it is a known fact that God is a Blazers’ fan and the devil wears purple and gold, the boys from LA are good and only getting better. In no less than one year they went from a so-so team to one of the best in the West and a legitimate contender. Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA and he shows no signs of slowing down. To the surprise of everyone, Andrew Bynum is good and stands to have many momentous battles with Greg Oden to establish who the best big man in the West is. Throw in the strong to very strong play of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom and deep bench of Luke Walton, Ronnie Turiaf, Jordan Farmar and Vladmir Radmanovic, and the Lake-show looks golden. Oh wait, I think I just threw up in my mouth.

There you have it, the Western Conference as we see it. What do you think?

All Time Blazers Team Part 2: Shooting Guard

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2008 by blazersog

This week we look at the position of SG for the All Time Blazers Team.  We here in Rip City were blessed in 1983 when Portland drafted the Glyde out of Houston with the 14th pick.  This decision is the easiest of all when looking at the All Time Blazers Team.  Clyde holds team records for: Games Played, Minutes Played, Points, Assists, Field Goals Made, Field Goals Attempted, Free Throws Made, Free Throws Attempted, Total Rebounds, Offensive Rebounds, Steals, and Personal Fouls.

Clyde is known as one of the all time great guards in NBA history.  Drexler has earned many honors throughout his career include being named to the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players

He earned his nickname “The Glyde” because of his near effortless, high-flying, and soaring swoops to the basket. 

 

Not only does Clyde hold the most team records of any Blazer, have his number 22 retired by the team but he also has NBA and International competition achievements that are near unmatched for shooting guards not named Michael.  His other achievements include:

Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2004); NBA champion (1995); All-NBA First Team (1992); All-NBA Second Team (1988, ’91); All-NBA Third Team (1990, ’95); NBA All-Star (1986, ’88, ’89, 90, ’91, ’92, ’93, ’94, ’96, ’97); Olympic gold medalist (1992).

If one name is synonymous with Rip City it is Clyde.  He made the city proud by not only playing the game the way it should be played, but being the leader of a great team off the court.  If you lived around Portland during the late 80s early 90s I am sure you have a Clyde story you love to share.  Whether it was that Avia Shoes poster shot at Benson High, or the trip down to UNLV in the playoffs Clyde is and always will be Mr. Portland.  When Clyde won a championship with the Rockets in 1995 it was a bitter sweet time for Portlanders.  One of our own won a championship, but not with us.  It was a true Blazer fan who once said “it was the hardest thing, and the sweetest thing to see Clyde win one.  All of us in Portland knew it was right for him to get it, even if it was not with us we were proud of our Clyde.” 

A little viewing enjoyment of Clyde’s 10 best dunks.  And if you ever questioned why he is the Glyde just check out the #1 dunk:

We are lucky to have another Guard now in Brandon Roy who continues to mold himself in the legacy of Drexler.  We only hope that Brandon can bring back what Clyde once provided.  Congrats Clyde All Time Blazer Shooting Guard!

What are your favorite Clyde stores?  Have you ever ran into Clyde during his time here in Portland?  Share with us what you know and love about the Glyde.

The All Time Blazers Team currently looks like this:

SF:  Jerome Kersey

SG:  Clyde Drexler

The Moniker Project

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2008 by blazersog

It occurred to us here at BlazersOG that one of the things missing from this young Blazers team, one of the things gained from experience and years in the League is a good, solid nickname for every player.  Mike Rice and Mike Barrett have coined Brandon “the Natural” Roy, which is perfect.  The other players, for the most part, are severely lacking in the alias department.  So, every Saturday, we’re going to post a different player and come up with a nickname that we’ll then pass on to the powers that be.  We all know that a nickname can take hold simply because people use it and we’re going to do exactly that.  One request, however, is that the nicknames stay positive – they don’t necessarily have to be basketball-oriented, but this is a FAN site, so pointless criticism or needless insults won’t be included as possible selections. 

So post your ideas in the comments section and we’ll put up the top 3 every week and then repost so we can collectively pick the favorite.  

The first player we thought made the most sense, in terms of Blazers tenure and severe need of a sweet nickname, is Martell Webster.  There is so much about him as a player and person that is fascinating to watch.  He is one of the best shooters in the League when he’s hitting and his intensity and focus is almost too severe at times.  If you want to check out his stats, click here.  There is a dilemma, however, in that he is rumored to already have a nickname, which is pretty cool (“The Definition” as a play on his last name’s dictionary-connection).  We’ve never, ever heard it used, though, so I guess it either hasn’t stuck or people just don’t know.  Either way, that’s the whole point of this effort.  

Marty McFly?  Seattle’s Best?  Uncle Marty?

 

The Jones Factor

Posted in Uncategorized on February 21, 2008 by blazersog

We can’t recall a team that has had a winning streak like our Blazers and then fall from grace so quickly. We did not expect any greatness from this team this early, but when we got a taste of it this past December, it was hard to let go of it. Right now, we are about where this team should be. They are slightly above .500 and are fighting every team for a W. With all the analysis and statistics that surround sports, we can point out a million and one reasons why the Blazers are having a bad stretch of games.

 

 We believe that there is one factor that trumps all. It’s called the Jones factor. Remembering the time before the streak, James Jones was just bouncing back from his knee injury. When the man became healthy enough to play valuable minutes for the Blazers, that’s when this team gelled and started popping wins like a pez dispenser. James Jones led the league in 3-point percentage and was our outside threat that opened up the middle for Brandon’s drives and LaMarc’s swift dunks. We all know that Brandon is the leader of this team, and LaMarcus is our inside threat, but James Jones is the X-factor that makes this team win. He is the veteran presence that knows when to pass, cut and take two steps to the right, just enough to spread the other teams defense leaving them vulnerable. We miss you James and we need your basketball savvy on the court. Please get that knee fixed ASAP, because when you’re not around this team can build houses with all the bricks their throwing.

Remember Mo Cheeks….Man that Guy Sucked

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 20, 2008 by blazersog

Today the Philadelphia 76ers made the irrational decision to extend the coaching tenure of Maurice Cheeks. This is a curious decision in light of Cheeks’ lack of success in Philly, but then again Cheeks is a 76ers hero who holds a special place in the heart of sports fans from the City of Brotherly Love.

Inexplicably, many Blazer fans also hold fond memories of Coach Cheeks despite his record, inability to coach and participation in the darkest years of the Blazer franchise. Considering all of Cheeks’ failures, why do many fans and more interestingly, the media, continue to remember Cheeks fondly?

In 301 games as the Blazers’ coach, Cheeks amassed a 162-139 record. During his first two years, the Blazers lost in the first round of the playoffs and the following two years they failed to even make the playoffs, breaking a 21 year old consecutive playoff streak. During this time now remembered as the “Jail Blazer” Era, the Blazers’ roster and front office was much maligned. As is well documented, a once proud Blazer franchise wilted and like a love affair gone wrong; the greatest city in the NBA and its beloved team seemed on the verge of a nasty divorce.

Throughout these turbulent years, the Portland and national media pointed many fingers, blaming everyone from owner Paul Allen to GM Bob Whitsett and players Bonzi Wells and Rasheed Wallace for the down fall. However, mysteriously, Mo Cheeks always seemed to get a pass. Yes, Cheeks had a team of thugs that loved wine, women, and song. Yes, he had a roster full of malcontents, but so do many NBA coaches. Yet through it all, the Portland fans never seemed to come to grips with the fact the Maurice Cheeks is a horrible coach. If Cheeks was a US president he would Herbert Hoover.

On an almost nightly basis, Cheeks would be out coached. His understanding of the X’s and O’s of the game was comical. Like Nero playing his fiddle while Rome burned, Cheeks rarely walked the sideline or called out plays, but chose instead to remain seated on the bench. Oddly, Cheeks’ strongest attribute as a player, his defense, was his biggest liability as a coach. But why to this day does Cheeks still not share a large part of the blame for the Jail Blazer Era?

Was it because he was nice guy, which he undoubtedly was? Was it because the Portland media, especially the Oregonian, liked Cheeks as a person and felt sorry for him? Is it because Cheeks stood up and helped 13 year old Natalie Gilbert sing the national anthem? Is it because Cheeks was surrounded by equally as inept players and front office personnel that he did not seem so bad compared to his co-workers? Or is it because Portland fans by nature are nice folks who were willing to give Cheeks a pass? In reality, it is all of these.

It is only human nature to feel sorry for a nice guy like Coach Cheeks. To see the turmoil surrounding the team one could not help but feel for him. But the guilt of the Jail Blazer era falls just as squarely at Maurice Cheeks’ feet as it does any other Blazer employee. At a minimum Cheeks aided and abetted the Jail Blazer Era, a spineless bystander who went along for the ride never bothering to go public with a demand that the organization clean up its act. Instead, Cheeks collected his check, signed autographs and smiled while the local media blamed the Blazers’ problems on everyone else. At least Rasheed Wallace had the decency to be an All-Star while he proudly lived the “CTC” (Cut the Check) motto.

Portland may never feel the need to blame Mo Cheeks for his role in the darkest days in Blazer history. Maybe it is better that we let bygones be bygones and forget the whole era. Mental health professionals often recommend that for a person to properly address and move past a traumatic experience in one’s life, they must first make an honest assessment of what happened, laying blame where blame belongs, and then moving on to forgiveness. This can take months and many times years. Well Portland, maybe its time to spend a little time on the psychiatry couch, topic of discussion for this week’s session: Coach Cheeks.