Archive for the ‘Portland Trail Blazers’ Category

The Raptors’ in-bounds play vs Portland

December 8, 2008

Given how the Raptors deployed their chess pieces …

What set Inbounds Play was Toronto trying to run yesterday during its final possession of the game vs Portland?

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Here’s the best read this corner has to offer:

Initial Player Alignment

PG/#1 – Jose Calderon [vs Blake] – Left Baseline Corner
OG/#2 – Anthony Parker [vs Roy] – Left FTL Extended
SF/#3 – Jason Kapono [vs Outlaw] – Inbound Passer, Right Sideline
PF/#4 – Chris Bosh [vs Aldridge] – Left Elbow
C/#5 – Jermaine O’Neal [vs Oden] – Right Elbow

First Offensive Action

* Parker was to cut above Bosh and O’Neal [who were to set stationary Staggered  Screens at the Elbows], in order to free himself in the Right Wing/Corner [outside the 3PT-line], to receive the 1st Pass from Kapono.

If Aldridge tried to Switch this screen, Bosh was to Dive toward the Right Low Post position for a direct entry pass from Kapono.

Second Offensive Action

* Kapono was to step in-bounds; then cut hard to his left, above O’Neal and Bosh [who were to set Staggered Back-screens], in order to free himself in the Top Of The Key area [outside of the 3PT-line, to receive a Flare Pass [the 2nd Pass in the sequence] from Parker.

* O’Neal was to set his Back-screen then Dive hard toward the basket.

If the defense tried to Switch this screen, O’Neal should have been open Slipping toward the basket.

* Bosh was to set his Back-screen, then step out beyond the 3PT-line as a potential pass recipient, if Parker was not able to pass the ball to either Kapono [for the 3PT-shot] or O’Neal [for the Layup inside].

If the defense tried to Switch this screen, Bosh was to Slip towards the basket, as well, in the wake of O’Neal’s into the lane.

* If Bosh received the pass from Parker, on the perimeter, he was to attack the basket towards the middle of the floor with his strong hand drive.

[Option I] If there was no Help coming off [A] Kapono [spotting up at the Left FTL Extended] or [B] Calderon [spotting up in the Left Corner], he was to [i] get to the hoop vs his defender, or [ii] get fouled on his drive.

[Option II]  If there was Help coming off either Kapono or Calderon, Bosh was to “Drive & Kick” to either of his two open teammates for the uncontested 3PT-shot.

* If all three passes of these passes were Hard Denied, Parker was to drive against his solo defender, in a 1-V-1 isolation play from the Right Wing/Corner. 

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What did the Blazers do to disrupt the play?

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First Defensive Action

* Travis Outlaw Sagged Off Kapono toward the Right Corner, denying an easy pass to that area on the floor.

Second Defensive Action

* Aldridge stayed with Bosh; held him, and prevented him from diving into the Right Low Post. 

Third Defensive Action

* As Parker cut above the first set of Staggered Screens, Oden Sagged Off from O’Neal to deter the easy pass from Kapono.

Given the Blazers’ First, Second & Third Defensive Actions vs this set play, Jason Kapono … remembering the difficulty the Raptors had inbounding the ball successfully against New Jersey, in a similar scenario two weeks ago … made the first available “safe” pass he could see, which was a direct entry to Jermaine O’Neal [stepping towards the ball].

For his part, O’Neal immediately recognized that the original play had been broken; quickly found and then got the ball to Bosh [the Raptors “best player”], at the Top Of The Key, and took his own defender away from the ball [by diving into the Right Low Post position].

For his part, when Bosh got the ball from O’Neal, he quickly recognized the situation and drove the ball towards the Left side of the floor, vs Aldridge [in a favourable match-up for the Raptors], using his strong hand.

For his part, Aldridge made a good defensive play, initially, by tipping the ball away from Bosh, when he changed hands with his dribble [beyond the 3PT-line], going from Left-to-Right; and, then defending CB4 by moving his feet, not reaching in, and not fouling Bosh, on his drive toward the basket. 

For his part, Blake did a solid job, Hedging in from the Left Corner vs Bosh’s drive to the basket, while remaining in a good position to still Close-out hard vs Calderon, if Bosh had tried to pass the ball to the Raptors’ PG.

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GAME REVIEW: Raptors vs Blazers [Dec 07]

December 8, 2008

The Raptors main problem this season is not going to be solved by the unjustifiable firing of Sam Mitchell.

FINAL SCORE: Raptors 97, Balzers 98
Game Info

48 Rebounds for the Blazers … with 18 of those coming at the Offensive end.

31 Rebounds for the Raptors …  with only 4 Offensive Recaptures.

That is everything you really truly need to know about the way in which this game was lost, from the home team’s perspective.

Adding Jermaine O’Neal [and Nathan Jawai, C, out indefinitely with a heart condition] this summer, at a salary of $21 Million/per, was the wrong move for this team to make. Period.

Until the Raptors address the glaring deficiencies they have in their current roster, which include …

* No credible back-up PG [outside of Anthony Parker, who they refuse to play at this spot]

* No credible back-up C [outside of Jermaine O’Neal, of course, who they refuse to play at that spot … because of the $$$ they are paying him; and, possibly, Andrea Bargnani, who they also refuse to play at that spot … because he is the former No. 1 Selection from the 2006 NBA Draft]

* No credible back-up OG [outside of Jamario Moon, who they refuse to play at that spot … despite the fact he has improved his shooting noticably this season: [i] FGM-A/% = 42-90/46.7%; [ii] 3FGM-A/% = 12-33/36.4; [iii] LS-FGM-A/% 14-21/66.7% [LS = from outside the lane on the Left-hand side of the floor]; and, [iv] LS-3FGM-A/% = 6-9/66.7%]

related to the domino effect of that transaction, they are going to lose a slew of games like this, this season.

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re: the Raptors’ Defense and Rebounding on the Blazers’ final two possessions

2nd Last Possession

* Parker did a solid job on Brandon Roy
* Chris Bosh did a solid job coming to help, providing a shot-blocking presence [he may have actually blocked the shot] in arears of AP [which was a necessary rotation given the move which Roy attempted to make]
* O’Neal did a solid job “Middling” LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden, i.e. the two players he was responsible for defending in that specific situation
* Unfortunately the ball was tipped and ended up deflecting to Oden
* O’Neal recovered well and challenged the shot by Oden, forcing a miss
* Because of their initial defense on the drive by Roy, neither Parker nor Bosh were able to establish solid inside position, vs Roy & Aldridge, respectively, and the ball was tipped out to Fernadez on the perimeter [Joey Graham was in the key attempting to rebound as well]

Last Possession

* The error Jose Calderon made was not forcing Blake to penetrate inside the arc for the pull-up J … but, given the time & score and the way he contested that Final shot, the inidividual D he played was acceptable.

Steve Blake hit a tough shot, off the bounce [with the benefit of an offensive foul that wasn’t called, to give the Blazers the lead; but, the Raptors still had more than enough time left to win the game.

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Unfortunately, the Raptors then ran an in-bounds play poorly and lost the game instead; something which happens every day/night, in the NBA.

Time to move on … because they are going to have their hands full in Cleveland. 😦

Need for QUALITY DEPTH on an NBA roster

October 9, 2008

Each season in the NBA, some organizations make an effort to slide by with something less than a full comportment of capable, high calibre players on their roster … e.g. see the Toronto Raptors this season, as Exhibit A … while still seemingly trying to make some noise in the post-season tournament.

In sharp contrast to this strategy, other top notch outfits, in the NBA, either (i) at The Apex of the League already, or (ii) in The Up-and-Coming category … e.g. see the Celtics, Lakers, Pistons, Hornets, Rockets, Jazz, Suns, Spurs, Mavericks, Magic, 76ers, Cavaliers, etc., as Exhibits B thru some-other-letter-in-the-alphabet … seem to understand implicitly the basic folly involved with this method of operation, in a League where injuries, both minor & major, are a constant hazard over the course of an 82-game regular season schedule pock-marked with back-to-backs, mini-stretches of 4 games in 5 nights, and extended road trips. 

How important is it to have outstanding QUALITY DEPTH on your roster, if you hope to ever compete legitimately for a Final Four spot in the NBA?

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Webster out at least eight weeks with foot injury
The euphoric aftermath of the Trail Blazers’ electric start to the exhibition season was dealt a somber dose of news Wednesday when Martell Webster, the front-runner to start at small forward, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot.

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Pretty darn important, according to this corner.

When one of a team’s key players goes down with an injury … the only squads that can survive & eventually conquer are the ones with a plethora of 1st-class NBA players on their roster, ready, willing, and capable of stepping-up to meet the challenge when the opportunity presents itself.

It says here that the Portland Trial Blazers will still be able to give a good account of themselves this season, primarily, because they now fit firmly into The Up-and-Coming category of Top Notch teams in the NBA with outstanding QUALITY DEPTH on their roster … which should allow them to replace a solid young player, like Martell Webster [No. 6 (overall) Draft Pick, 2005], with yet another solid youngster, like Jerryd Bayless [No. 11 (overall) Draft Pick, 2008], and insert him into the mix with the other burgeoning talents they have right now in the form of Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, Travis Outlaw. Rudy Fernandez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Channing Frye, Sergio Rodriguez, Ike Diogu, Nicolas Batum, etc.

It is pure nonsense for anyone … e.g. a casual fan, a so-called NBA Expert, or a real life GM … to think or suggest that an NBA team could conceivably have too many talented [and, therefore, highly serviceable] players on its roster … at any point in time, given the nature of the competition in this League, on a game-to-game basis.

Anyone who trys to tell YOU that Less is somehow equal to More, in this League … in regards to the overall QUALITY DEPTH on a specific team’s player roster … is quite simply doling out the KOOL-AID, big-time, to you.

Fore-warned is fore-armed; and, shame on you, if you choose to drink it.

Greg, Brandon, Rudy, Travis, Martell, LaMarcus, et al.

October 8, 2008

Sometimes … fully animated pictures do tell the story much better than 1000’s of words ever could.

As I’ve said before …

the Lakers best do their part to win the NBA championship THIS year!

It’s been a stretch of 31 seasons, in Portland, but … it’s safe to say that,

The Mojo has now returned to The Rose Garden … for REAL … with ‘The 2nd Coming’.

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[Please Note: Someone NEEDS to make a Photoshop poster, right now, of these 6 Young Guns, together, in the Pacific Northwest, as they set off on ‘the trail’, in search of ‘The Holy Grail’, last seen in this part of the USA when the original ‘Mountain Man’ walked these hills, at the very apex of his game … with the Final Destination already determined, in advance … cause it says right here, that … It’s ONLY A MATTER OF TIME, for a wrecking crew like this.]

They ARE good … ala Baskin Robbins

October 1, 2008

Surveying the NBA landscape, via the net, any given day, can be like wading through a haystack in search of a needle.

That said … 

some of what struck these eyes as noteworthy, from around the association, yesterday were these two simple pearls, from Monty Williams [Assistant Coach] and Ben ‘the blogger’, respectively, at the Trailblazers’ first day of training camp:

A Few Thoughts from Practice

I)

“… on my way out I said, ‘They look good.’

Monty replied, ‘They ARE good.’

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II) 

The main takeaway from today for me was the challenge that Nate faces.  It’s one thing to diagram a depth chart on paper, it’s another to see all those big, multi-talented, athletic, versatile bodies all on the floor at once, going at it full-speed.  Lots of choices. Baskin Robbins status.

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It’s the dawn of a new day in Portland, and … if Greg Oden can just manage to stay healthy … whoever might sleep on this crew, this season, is going to be in store for a Rude Awakening.

This team is deep, skilled, long and very athletic … with a solid head coach.

NOTE: To think that some Raptors’ fans actually believe that Toronto [41-41] is somehow ahead of Portland [41-41], right now … i.e. Are we better than the Blazers right now? … is head-scratching stuff.

2nd Comings in the Pacific Northwest

September 23, 2008

Q1. What are the reasons you have lost your mind and predicted boldly that the 2008-2009 LA Lakers will win 70+ regular season games and capture the NBA Championship?

A1. If you must know, it’s a two-part answer.

PART ONE
The Lakers have done a solid job re-assembling a 1st-class roster of highly talented, athletic, skilled, complimentary players around Phil Jackson & Kobe Bryant, two expert practicioners in their respective fields, i.e. ZenMaster Warlord, and his Most Trusted Samurai. On the heels of the experience this team gained last season, losing in the NBA FINALS, it is now poised to strike back with lethal vengence, this season … to provide the 10th NBA Title, as a coach, for their venorable Sensai; and, the 1st Ring (overall) for his protege, Black Mamba, unaccompanied by his former partner-in-crime, the Biggest-Shogun-of-All-Time. According to these eyes, this is THE season for these Lakers to make history, as a group. Here & Now. Next season? Who knows where Phil Jackson is going to be, at his age? Or, Lamar Odom? Or, Derek Fisher? Or, Tex Winter? Or, the rest of the Lakers’ extended family. The time for this group, to ‘Be In The Moment, as One‘, is NOW. 

“Life is fast; and, things happen quickly”.Derek Fisher

PART TWO
This MAN, right here …

is about to make his long-awaited debut, in the NBA, this season …

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Q & A with Greg Oden
NBA.com: What are your goals for the upcoming season?
Greg Oden: Just to win. To try to get out there and help my team win as much as possible. I’m not really worried about individual stats. For me, if my team can make the playoffs or we can win a lot more games than we did last year, then that will satisfy me.

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and this corner just happens to believe that he is going to prove to be, in the long run, the closest thing this League has seen, in the LAST 40 YEARS, to the re-incarnation of The Great Man, himself … Mr. Bill Russell (figuratively speaking, of course, as the original incarnation is still going strong!) combined with Wilt Chamberlain (at his most powerful best) … in terms of his Commitment to REBOUNDING, Defense, Team & Individual Offense AND his overall attitude toward The Game (specifically) & Life (in general).

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NBA.com: You got to know the greatest big man in Blazers history, Bill Walton, a little bit. What advice has he shared with you?
Greg Oden: He’s just telling me if you go out there and play, you don’t have to worry about what people say about you in the news or the media. Just go out there and play your game and have fun with it. It’s just a game. You’ve got to understand that you’re a rookie. Don’t put any pressure on yourself that isn’t needed.

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If the Lakers DO NOT win the championship this season … each year that goes by it is going to get more and more difficult for them – and the other elite level teams in the Western Conference – to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers, anchored in the middle by Gregory Wayne Oden, Jr., over the course of the next decade, or so.

When you find yourself standing squarely between a Rock (i.e. last year’s group of Boston Celtics) and a Hard Place (Greg Oden’s Portland Trail Blazers for the next 10-15 years) … it can do wonders to create an extraordinary sense of urgency, and R.E.S.P.E.C.T., for the moment at-hand. Carpe Diem!

Destiny Awaits! … THIS, specific Lakers’ team

… which will NEED to strike while the iron is hot … and, before the sparks ignite, full blown, up the Pacific Coastline, in the Emerald City.