Suns v. Blazers (Part I)

Alright, so the playoffs are about to kick off, and the Suns, well, they ended up with a pretty good draw.  That’s right, they get the Blazers in the first round!  I can’t think of a team that I would rather the Suns face.  Why?  Well, let’s let the Wild Oregonian Reinwald kick things off:

With the way they’re playing, I definitely predict Suns winning in 4 games. How nice for them to get Portland without a 100% B-Roy! Actually did you see that he’s going to try and play ‘because doctors told him the injury CAN’T GET ANY WORSE!!!’ Anyway, Suns are on a role right now, Portland can’t score to save a burning baby, and PHX will win in 4 games, unless Aldridge plays out of his mind and STAT doesn’t show up. I can’t be totally pissed about that…

Well, that part about Roy is no longer true.  He was thinking about trying to play, but modern medicine prevailed and he will miss at least the first round.  Part of me (the part that hates Broy [that's not B-Roy, but Broy] with a burning fiery passion and is the part that happens to be the vast majority of me) wishes he would’ve tried to play and would have suffered extensive damage that would keep him out for a season or two.  But noooooooooooooo…he had to listen to the doctors.  Jerk.

The Suns are on a mighty mighty roll right now.  Helluva roll.  And that roll will not be stopped (or, most likely, even slowed down much) by the Blazers.

Portland can’t score to save a burning baby.  Well done.

This last part, though, is the funniest part to me.  PHX will win in 4 games, unless Aldridge plays out of his mind.  This is the thing about Portland’s fans (and management, which is why Portland is not really much of a threat): they waaaaaaaaay overvalue their young players.  LaMarcus Aldridge is a good player.  But that’s it.  He’s a damn sight short of great and miles south of being any kind of star.  In fact, let’s see what Professor Hollinger had to say about Aldridge heading into this season:

2008-09 season: Call it a mild disappointment. Aldridge did all the same things he did in his breakout 2007-08 season … but nothing more. He averaged 7.4 field goals on 15.3 attempts, the exact numbers he averaged a season ago, and his other numbers were virtually identical as well. Whether this represents progress is in the eye of the beholder. On the one hand, he didn’t regress and proved his sophomore season wasn’t a fluke. On the other, one gets the impression we’re already pretty close to his ceiling.

That was after Aldridge took his PER from an 18.32 in 07-08 to a 19.13 in 08-09.  This year?  Aldridge finished with a PER of 18.30.  Lower than his “breakout” season.  He’s just not as good as they want to think he is.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  He’s useful.  He was 45th in the league in PER this year.  But he’d have to travel a helluva long way outside his damn mind to be any kind of dominant player.  And STAT?  Well, I assume by “STAT doesn’t show up” he means actually, physically does not enter the arena.  ‘Cause that’s the only way STAT doesn’t crush the Blazers over four games.

  • dekko

    When Roy was out 15 games earlier this season Aldridge averaged 28 PPG

    • nate dion

      Roy missed 17 games. The Blazers went 8-9 in those games. Aldridge can score all he wants, but he’s not that guy who dominates. Ever. He’s that guy who always scores a “quiet” 28 or so. You watch him all game, and never think, “Wow, that guy is good.” You look at the box score in the fourth quarter and say, “Holy crap! Aldridge has 24? When did that happen?”

  • Ben

    I think I’d have been worried about this series if Roy were playing – as the Suns still *might* have a hard time winning games in Portland if the Blazers can really dictate the game with their disgusting pace at home, but with Roy there’d also be some serious D-Wade potential where he’s gifted 30 FT to steal a game in PHX.
    But without Roy this should be a walk- if a marshmallow-soft PF who gives you 17-7 is your best player you are not a team to worry about (Suns- just please, for the love, box-out Camby and you’ll be fine).

    • nate dion

      Yeah, Camby is the guy to worry about. He’s a beast on the boards, and the Suns suck when they get outrebounded.

  • Adam

    I’m not overvaluing Aldridge at all…just saying that the only way they win a game is if, for some reason, he makes like KG for 4 quarters and just turns into an animal…something no one has ever seen from LaMarcus. I doubt it’ll happen, but there is always a chance. And yes, I did mean Amare will probably have to literally sleep through a game. Go Blazers? Suns in 4…

    • nate dion

      So you’re sayin’ there’s a chance! Got it. A fractional percentage of a chance, but hey–dude’s gotta dream, right? You’re much more rational than many of your O brethren…all this madness about Pritchard is ridiculous. Fella’s done a good job, but-again-overvaluing players has totally hurt the team’s overall development. They played over their heads a couple years ago, then met a little fella named Regression To The Mean. They’re good but not great, and they need to realize that.

  • dekko

    They were missing a lot more than Roy. That record includes a couple of losses where neither played.
    And LMA was having to play most of his minutes at center. At times the entire bench was Blake and two 2nd round pick rookies.

    A “quiet” 28 is less than a “noisy” 28? Who knew?

    Anyway there are some things you are missing with him. Like his high release that is about impossible to block. And quick hands, he leads the team in deflections.

    I am sure the suns will win the series but I hope they try to guard LA with single coverage since he is so weak a player. =)

  • nate dion

    That’s true…the Blazers had an assload of injuries this year.

    What I mean about the quiet 28 is not that it’s less points, but that at some point somebody has to own the game. Aldridge is not that guy. He’s like a right fielder who goes 3-4 with 3 singles with the bases empty. A lot of meh.

    Don’t talk about quick hands in these parts…you may not be aware of this, but Jared Dudley has the most athletic hands in the NBA. So there’s that…

    And single coverage’ll suit me just fine. I think if Aldridge scores 28, there’s a pretty solid chance the Suns win.

  • dekko

    The suns are supposed to win even with Roy. LA may not be the dominant closer, but he really has not had the chance with Roy. He does get them off to great starts. If he does not then they really struggle.

    Roy’s knee must not have been very bad, if the blazers can stretch the series he could be back in a week.

    Roy open to return if Blazers advance

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and will miss _one to two weeks_.

  • Blazed

    Doesn’t anyone remember that Portland won in Phoenix without Brandon (and other injured players) THIS season? Series sweep? No F&CK%NG way! Now they have Camby to give some defensive post presence, a more established point guard (dropped 50+ in a game this season) AND a supporting cast that has been stepping up to the task in recent games. Shake yourself Wild Reinwald. You need to be institutionalized. (I’ve always wanted to say that to someone and this seemed appropriate)

    The TB’s play a different (some would say more potent) style of basketball without their main guy. When Brandon isn’t simply taking his man 1 on 1 every possession (reason for the slow, boring offense), the ball moves and the team can take advantage of their shooting and athleticism. When Brandon is in the game guys stand around and watch him score. It would be stupid for me to say that the Blazers are a better team without Brandon Roy. But they are a dangerous team without him.

    I’m not saying that Portland should be considered a favorite to win this series. Amare is a man-beast and will give Portland bigs everything they can handle (and likely more). And Steve Nash is without question one of the most special players on this planet. But I’ll point out two match-ups that should be taken in to consideration.

    Andre Miller (offense), Steve Nash (defense)
    ‘Dre’s favorite thing is to post up smaller point guards and Nash is ripe for the plucking. He’s been doing this for a while, folks. Don’t you CO boys remember? They will post up ‘Dre every time Steve matches up with him. The Suns will have to make a defensive adjustment.

    Steve Nash (offense), Nic Batum (defense)
    Batum is one of the most dynamic young defensive players in the world. He can stand on his tip-toes and touch the rim and he’s 6’10″. This means his arms are long. He’s also really, really fast and has a nose for the ball. Steve is going to make Nic look like the 21 year old that he is at times, but there will also be times that Nic really makes things difficult for Steve. What makes this possible is the fact that ‘Dre is big enough to guard a 2.

    Again, I’m not saying that Portland should think they have this series. In fact it should be expected that they loose in the first round. But this series will NOT be a sweep. I’m not going to go as far as to predict a number of games, but I would be SHOKED if it were less than 6.

    I’m out!

    • nate dion

      By “more potent” do you mean less horrible? I know you Rip City boys are passionate fans of yer squad no matter what, but it’s gotta be hard to root for such a boring team, yes? Roy being out is one of the reasons I think this series might be more fun to watch. The ball actually moving certainly makes for more watchable hoops. Don’t think I’m done with you yet.

  • Adam

    Wow, did I just get Blazed? Man, I can totally understand your 2 match-ups and how they offer the Blazers a slight advantage in those two situations, but this series in particular comes down to one thing: how do the Blazers get buckets to stay with the Suns. And without Brandon, they simply don’t have enough firepower (did they even with Roy?) to contend with the Suns. With the Jazz? Sure. Stay with the Spurs? Duh. Maybe even with the Lakers, but not the Mavs and definitely not the Suns. Batum, while a very good defender, will need to up his scoring average 5pts in the playoffs for the Blazers to do well. And, as much as I love Andre, he ain’t going for 50 against the Suns. So, perhaps they get frisky and win one in PDX…from my chair, that’s as good as it get in this series. Now, what they should have done was trade more than Outlaw at the deadline for a real second banana, like Caron Butler, or Antawn Jamison. This is my problem with KP and the boys in the front office.

  • dekko

    How do the Blazers get buckets to stay with the Suns?

    The game plan will be limit the suns possessions. Less turnovers, get more offensive rebounds and control the tempo. Suns average 98 possessions per game, Blazers 90.

    Now if that game plan works is another question, if the suns do bring their momentum to the post season they maybe just steamroll the blazers.

    Not saying I expect a series win, but the offense is not so lopsided as you think if they can limit the possessions. Oddly enough the two blazers wins were high scoring games, one without Roy, while the suns win was with 93 pts on 39% shooting …go figure.


    Per 100 possessions the suns score 112.7 pts and the Blazers 108. On defense per 100 possessions the suns give up 107 and the blazers 104.

    Point differential there is suns 5 and blazers 4. Turnovers per 100 possessions suns 24 blazers 21.
    Rebound rate on offensive suns 27.6 per 100 possessions, blazers 28.8 (and that was half a season with no center)Defensive rebounds per 100 suns 71, blazers 75.

    • nate dion

      dekko-I think you’re exactly right–the Blazers will work real hard to prevent the Suns from possessing the ball. That’s why I think Camby is the biggest swinger in this series. The Suns absolutely must keep him off the offensive glass. If he’s pullin’ down boards for second chances, the Suns are boned. The Suns don’t win games when they give up offensive rebounds and turn the ball over (like most teams in the league, I imagine). I’m-a have another post up shortly comparing the stats from their three matchups this season.

  • dekko

    On the other hand some of Portland’s defense success is predicated on zones and most teams do not have the Sun’s shooters. Oddly enough the suns win came in the 4th quarter when their zone disrupted the blazers.

    They will likely be fronting A’mare and playing the passing lanes, but that should not be as effective as with some teams because of Nash.

    >but it’s gotta be hard to root for such a boring team, yes?

    lol. No not at all a problem and I do not find well executed BBall boring no matter the pace.

  • Blazed

    Is Adam really saying that the Jazz are a better matchup for Portland (without giving any supporting evidence or even a series record)? That’s almost as insane as saying Portland will go down in 4. Phoenix is one of the two teams Portland WANTED in the first round. Dekko is right, it won’t be about trying to score with Phoeniix, it’s going to be about limiting possessions. Portland has the best defense in the West. They will be able to do that. Pace is Phoenix’s kryptonite. Portland will either try and score early in the shot clock or will use the ENTIRE shot clock. Casual observers of the game don’t know that Brandon, while being the star and best player on the team, is not the heart and soul of the team productivity-wise and can only claim co-team MVP. ‘Dre has earned the other half of the team honor and this isn’t his first time to the dance, folks. He has been the MAIN GUY in the playoffs before… and with less talent surrounding him!

    As far as trading more than just Travis and Blake to get someone better than Camby? The padded paddy wagon is on it’s way, Adam. With Joel and Greg going down the Blazers couldn’t have molded from clay a better player to contribute to this team in their absence. Antawn and Caron are great players but they don’t fit this team nearly as well as Marcus who was acquired for practically nothing (sorry Steve and Trav). Do you really think they would make a trade for a new starting 4? Insanity. KP should be considered for Exec of the Year for that trade as Camby has exceeded all expectations.

    Here are two more match-ups that should be taken in to consideration.

    Amare (offense), Marcus (defense)
    I’ve heard many Suns fans say that Amare will take LaMarcus to the cleaner every night. But why would Nate put LMA on Amare when he has a former defensive player of the year big man in Camby? Save LMA for offense! Who does LMA have to guard now that Amare is covered, Collins? Amundson? Frye? Puuuhhleeeease. The suns have only one big man that can make a true impact on the floor and he’s going to have to do it on both ends.

    LaMarcus (offense), ???? (defense)
    Are the Suns thinking that Amare will D up LMA in this series? If so, this is great news for the Blazers because the post will be Marcus’ playground as LMA will undoubtedly take his defender out to 20 ft. Camby will then have a field day with the undersized big men that los Suns will have to throw at him. It will take take a large defensive presence out of the paint so that ‘Dre can also have his fun down on the block.

  • Blazed

    Nate, remind me, who is going to keep Camby off the glass?

    • nate dion

      Well, now that I think about it, it doesn’t really matter if they keep Camby off the glass. He can get all the damn rebounds he wants.

  • dekko

    On the match-ups.. it is true A’mare will have to work on both ends with LA and Camby remembering he can score. But I would not be calling it a ‘field day’ for either.
    And on another front the Blazers bench has been pretty stinky lately and the Suns bench has been the best in the league down the stretch and running up leads.
    Would be nice to see the blazer starters get longer minutes. But Nate (rightly) will not likely budge on his rotation, disrupts the rhythm and the starters might run out of gas. Someone has to step up for the blazers to have a chance at that split.

    • nate dion

      I agree that the bench is a pretty important matchup (and that the Suns’ bench is really good right now). In fact, there’s a matchup post brewin’ that’ll be up later this evening!