Portland takes Game 4! (Guest Blogger)


Well, Senor Sun-n-Gun had a domestic duty to attend to today in the land of McCain (it was moving day at the House of Sun-n-Gun!), so I’ve asked Reinwald (unrepentant Portland fan) to guest blog about today’s Game 4 up in the PDX.

So, Sun-n-Gunners, Game 4 turned out to be shocking only in how different it was from games 2 and 3.  Portland led 54-50 at the half, and went on to win 96-87. Boy, that is a Blazer-paced game if I’ve ever seen one.  Could the return of Brandon Roy really been the big difference-maker?  Let’s see.  But first, taking a page out of Nate’s earlier notes, let’s look at the first quarter score first: Phoenix led 27-26 after 1, a departure from Games 2 and 3, where PHO jumped out quickly on the Blazers (32-26 and 34-16, respectively).  Brandon Roy didn’t start (he came off the bench to play 27 minutes, only 10 days after surgery on his knee), so what was the difference?  Well,  it could have been the return to health of Nic Batum, the defensive wiz who was truly a difference maker in Game 1 with both his half-court and transition defense and timely shooting.  Perhaps his presence forced the Suns to shoot poorly (1-7) on 3pt FGs in the quarter, keeping the score close in that quarter.  This fan thinks that it was an improved Portland defense, more than a sluggish PHO offense, that brought us to the halftime score of 54-50 Blazers.  The Suns had 0 fast-break pts, and 0 second-chance points until 2 minutes left in the first half…that’s good defense.

Some other telling stats from the game: the Suns had 17 assists to the Blazers 26, despite the shooting percentages being roughly the same (both around the lower 40s).  Doesn’t this point to slightly higher offensive efficiency for the Blazers?  But the real deal for this game was the pace (Suns unable to force Portland into a quicker game, unlike games 2 and 3) and the lack of scoring from the Suns guards.  For this fan, the ever-important matchup in this series is Richardson vs. the Blazers cohort opposite him.  In games 2 and 3, J-Rich went for 29 and 42 (42!!), shooting a pretty high percentage.  In game 4?  15 points on 6-16 shooting.  That ain’t gonna get it done, especially on the road.  Game 1? 14 points on 4-12 shooting.  Yikes!  Senor Sun-n-Gun doesn’t really want to consider this, but…as J-Rich goes, so go the Suns, at least in this series.  His buckets usually come when the Suns are really runnin’ and in the a real offensive flow.  So, while he doesn’t carry the Suns (that’s left to STAT and Nash), he is a good litmus test for the Suns offense.  We’ll see if he continues to be so in the remaining 3 games. (I’m really excited that this is going 7, by the way. More Suns-Blazers can only mean good times!).

As for Roy, it was nice to see him back, as a Portland fan, even if he was only about 70%.  I hope that he can pull a STAT and come back strong (albeit almost 3 years later) from a knee injury.  I don’t expect him to have much of an impact on the series going forward, but maybe, with the crowd being especially rowdy in PDX, his presence in uniform was enough to rouse the Blazers to victory.  Here’s hoping, right?

Since I have the platform currently, I will say that I DO expect Phoenix to eventually win the series.  I’m pretty surprised, as are (most likely) the Suns themselves, that the series is tied 2-2.  Perhaps Blazed and dekko were right…the Blazers were hoping for the Suns all along, given the pace and style of play differences.  But now the series is down to three games, and clearly home court doesn’t really matter.  So we’ll see if the Suns, or the Blazers, can impose their will.  Looking forward to Game 5…

Tags: Blazers Guest Blogger Postgame Reinwald Suns

  • dekko

    A rather significant thing I have not seen mentioned

    2 POR wins, STAT had 2 very early fouls
    2 PHO wins, LMA had 2 very early fouls

    ========

    Starting Bayless exposed Nash as he was forced to work on both ends… and Roy was a huge upgrade for the bench.

  • Adam

    Good points, dekko. Obviously, Amare’s foul-out in Game 1 hurt the Suns. But even tonight, STAT still ended up playing 38+ minutes and scored 26 pts on 9-16 shooting (not bad, really). So it’s hard to say how much of an impact the two early fouls REALLY had on the game. Perhaps the early pine time for STAT means that Phoenix doesn’t get out to a huge lead by halftime, though I still think the Blazer defense was good enough to stem that tide anyway. And one could see the impact of two early fouls on LMA in Game 2 (27 mins, 11 pts, only took 8 shots), but not so much in Game 3 (a more normal 17, 7, and 35+ mins). Foul trouble is a delicate thing to use as a basis for winning and losing. However, it really was a general stinkbomb from the Suns wing players, highlighted by Grant Hill’s 3-10 shooting and the abysmal -15 he put while on the court. Even Jarron Collins managed a +1! You are totally right about the Bayless move. He didn’t have as many flash plays as Game 1, but he really did put pressure on Stevie to defend and run the team. I like Bayless A TON next season as the starting PG. You?

  • dekko

    The foul trouble is all about Aldridge. With 2 quick fouls on LA the suns had the huge starts that the blazers could not overcome. LA played tentative because he was basically the whole game once they shut down miller.
    With Amare in foul trouble early and none on LA, LA was confident and could play his game and did not have to work on both ends of the floor as hard. When Amare returns he had to back off of LA little too.

    What is up with Amar’e anyway? Are the elbows out of character or has he always channeled Malone?? The elbow while fighting for position with LA I thought was just built up heat… but the dead ball cold calculated elbow to Batum’s sore shoulder was flat dirty.

  • Adam

    Yeah, I don’t know what to make of Amare’s elbows…sometimes when I watch him play, I kind of think he is a 12yr old in a grown man’s body, and that the elbows are just a function of immature tantrums. But I don’t know about the Batum one…that sure looked like it had something behind it. It’s hard to think that any team with Nash and Hill could have an ounce of dirty, but I guess all is possible.

  • dekko

    Well come to think about it I remember laughing about Pippen ‘testing’ Kobe’s broken ribs…pot kettle black here

  • Blazed

    What a big game for us Rip City fans. After game 2 and 3 I was worried that the series was slipping away. I’ll take losing if the games are close and interesting. But blowouts are no fun for fans of the team getting whoped up on. It took a lot of effort to simply sit through them.

    So, in regard to last night’s game, I have a few opinions to share. First, I’m going to have to disagree with Channing and Amare who made statements to the media that Brandon was not a diference maker in the game and is “just another player” on the team. While i’m sure Brandon would agree with these statements due to his uber humble personality, I just can’t. And I’m especially surprised that Channing, who knows Brandon’s game well, jumped on that bandwagon. Not as surprised as I was to read this guest bloggers pre-series prediction (sorry I won’t let ya live that one down buddy). Mi Oden jersey es su Oden jersey, amigo! Brandon was the reason this game went the Trail Blazers’ way and it wasn’t because of the modest stats he put up.

    LMA had to be the happiest guy in Portland when he found out that Brandon could see some minutes in game 4. Rudy was probably not quite as thrilled (I’ll save my comments on that situation for another post). LaMarcus said it himself during the postgame press conference, that within 30 seconds of Brandon taking the floor he got his first single coverage look of the series. And he took full advantage of that by setting a playoff scoring personal best. The Suns just can’t double and triple down on LMA like they have been when Brandon is not on the court. He will make any team pay for that.

    Big shots are Brandon’s specialty. Everyone in the NBA should know that by now. Brandon’s nearly 1/2 court game winner from last season vs Houston is still in heavy rotation on commercials for the NBA. Brandon didn’t hit a buzzer beater last night but he hit shots when it was most important for the shot to go in. His only made three pointer of the game is the best example of that. And this is what the team is missing when he’s not on the court. Andre is great but is more 2D to Brandon’s 3D (‘Dre ain’t got no J). Portland will always hit an offensive dry spell at some point with their slow pace of play (7+ minutes without a FG last night) so they heavily rely on the player who has the ability to generate his own offense whenever the ball is in his hand. The pace of play in game 1 was not typical for the TBs so they didn’t miss him as much as they would have in last night’s game. The Suns played so well in games 2 and 3 that I’m not sure it would have been any diference although the argument can be made that the game might have had a completely different look and feel were Roy in the lineup.

    Another reason Brandon’s mere presence on that court contributed to the win is what it did for the fans. Portland has some of the most loyal and dedicated fans of any US pro sports team. They’re the only gig in the state (MLS coming soon) so fans pour all of their fanaticism in to one Blazing pot (couldn’t resist that one). This is a fan base that booed their team (deservingly so) on their home court because they didn’t put up the kind of effort that was expected of them. Brandon’s remarkable comeback story re-energized Blazer fans and the team relied on them in the fourth quarter when push was coming to shove… Quite literally.

    This leads perfectly to a few ponts I want to make about sportsmanship in this series. Now I expect an elevated physical game in the playoffs but that physicality should happen between the whistles. Amare’s shot to Batum’s injured shoulder after play had clearly ended was not okay from my perspective. I’m not implying that a player should take it easy on an injured player. Quite the opposite is true, in fact. If your cover has a bum wheel, cross him over and take him to the hole. Take advantage of the fovorable matchup. That’s expected. But Amare crossed the line with the post whistle elbow to the injury and behaved, as Adam pointed out, like a child. Poor form. With classy guys like Hill and Nash leading your team that type of behavior shouldn’t be tolerated.

    Okay, I’ve been typing this on my phone from the backseat of a car on the drive back from back from a great weekend in the Dells and my thumbs are not so kindly asking me to stop.

    I can’t wait for the rest of this series to play out. Just no more blowouts for crying outloud.

  • Allen Greenspan

    The minute I started reading the Reinwald part, his voice entered my head. Now it can’t get out.