So over the weekend my man Blazed wrote about 8 million words that mostly boiled down to sharing his manlove for the Blazers in general and Broy in particular. I promised I’d respond at some point, and some point happens to be right now.
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.
Okay, I’m gonna stop you right there. Of course Amar’e said that. As we’ll get to in greater detail a little later, STAT has been working his butt off all series to not only play a little bully ball on the court, but to play some head games as well. Why in the hell would he ever admit that Broy was anything special? What he said is precisely what I would hope (and expect) that he’d say. Same thing for Channing, only more so because he played in PDX. “Broy? Nah, he’s nothin’ special. Just another player.” Exactly. I think it’s good for guys to have a healthy respect for their opponents, but the lovefest that goes on between opponents sometimes is just sort of silly.
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!
Well, at least there’s one rational Blazer fan out there. Don’t hate.
Brandon was the reason this game went the Trail Blazers’ way and it wasn’t because of the modest stats he put up…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.
Ok, that’s probably true. Again, I did not get to watch this game, but it seems like having Broy in the game threw the Suns off just enough that they had to change up their defensive looks.
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.
Let’s talk about that play, shall we? Yeah, that was a good shot by Broy. Of course, it mightn’t have counted if it hadn’t been for the hometown clock operator waiting to start the clock. Yeah, that’s right. Clock started late (I know we’re talking about fractions of seconds, but every fraction matters. Watch the video if you like:
I know it’s not the best quality, but I also would like to present as evidence this screenshot:
Look closely. The clock says 00.7. Broy already has the ball cocked and ready to shoot. So he somehow caught the ball, took a step, turned, jumped, and cocked the ball in a tenth of a second (there was 00.8 on the clock at the inbound)? I’m not saying there’s no way it would’ve happened. I’m saying that it’s a lot easier to beat the buzzer when you’re given extra time to do so.
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.
I know we talked a lot about pace, and I’ve got a post on pace brewin’ up for later today. But here’s the big secret about this series: every game, including Game 1, has been played at the Blazers’ pace or slower. In some cases, significantly slower.
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.
I completely agree that Blazer fans are rabid. But as is true with any animal that contracts rabies, this, as a general rule, leads to irrational, poorly-thought-out behavior. We’ve been over this before; this is the kind of behavior that leads to overvaluing mediocre players. Fans see themselves as part of the team, and see the players as their teammates. Nobody wants their teammates to be traded! Oregon needs a distraction.
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.
Alright, back to Amar’e. Let’s look at a video of the “elbow” that was produced by one of the aforementioned insane Blazer fans with far too much time on his hands (it must’ve been a rainy day in PDX):
Alright, first of all, the poor persecuted Blazer fans act like STAT hit Batum in the shoulder with a sledgehammer. I don’t think I underestimate that shot by calling it a glancing blow. Batum probably had a greater chance of damaging the shoulder with the push he gave Amar’e than he did on the actual “elbow.” And here’s the thing about that; this is exactly the kind of stuff that the Suns are always torched for lacking. They don’t have any toughness. They’re soft. As soon as they play with any degree of toughness, they get lambasted for that. Look, I’m not saying that this was a class move by Stoudemire. It wasn’t. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I would describe it as a real dick move. But it’s the kind of dick move the Suns need. STAT wasn’t trying to hurt Batum, he was just reminding him that he was there and that he remembered his shoulder. It was just like in Game 5 when Camby fell and STAT walked over him just a bit. “Hey, remember me? I own you.” It’s head games. It’s gamesmanship. It’s one of those things, that if your team does it to my team, I’m pissed. I’m throwing shit at the tv. If my team does it to yours? I smile, maybe chuckle a little sheepishly, and insist that it’s just part of the game. And I’m pretty sure every other fan would do the same.
I can’t wait for the rest of this series to play out. Just no more blowouts for crying outloud.
I’m definitely with you on that one. Blowouts are no fun for anybody. I’ll be back in a bit to talk about pace.