Thursday, January 04, 2007

We're in shambles (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)

December 20 I was at the Rose Garden to see the Blazers defeat the Houston Rockets. It was their fifth straight win. Brandon R-O-Y was playing in his first game back from injury. Travis Outlaw looked great. Zach Randolph had an off night, but still led his team. Joel Przybilla made Yao Ming work for every shot. The arena was excited about Blazers basketball, and I believed that the Blazers could play with most of the teams in the NBA. All I wanted for Christmas was a six-game win streak.

Oh how two weeks has changed things. After losing four straight--badly, at that--and playing like excrement, I have very little faith in this team. I started the season with hopes of drafting Greg Oden, since I thought the year would be another tough one. But after all the hope that was instilled in me and then ripped out, I don't even feel like dreaming about bringing Oden into this mess. So instead of just whining, I'll list (again) what I think the problems might be.
  1. For as good as he is, R-O-Y is disrupting the offense much more than Randolph had been in. As soon as McMillan took Jack's minutes and gave them to Brandon, Jack lost confidence. Jack is also a pure point guard, so he looks to get others involved first. R-O-Y is an unselfish shooting guard, so even though he is good at getting his teammates involved, his first inclination is to shoot. This has also taken away from Sergio Rodriguez' minutes some, which is sad, because he brings a lot of energy every second he's on the floor.
  2. This team doesn't look like they're playing with trust, and they've said as much to the papers. I don't know how this problem can be fixed, but I think that McMillan's attempt isn't working...yet. Maybe it will.
  3. A lot of guys don't look like they're playing hard. Again, I don't know how a problem like this gets solved, and it's especially frustrating because McMillan seems like the kind of coach who would be able to get his guys to bring energy to every game.
  4. It appears that Zach is now in one of his "moods." I feel for the guy, because any time he gets upset it's immediately labeled as a problem. BUT, I'm also a little afraid that he's bought into what the media says about him, and may decide to show everyone that he's the reason this team was winning. That would be very sad, especially when he's been proving people wrong. Hopefully he decides to continue proving people wrong.
  5. Jamaal Magloire never passes, unless it's to the opposing team. This really isn't new, but it's still really frustrating to read about. I haven't seen as many games as I want, so when I'm reading Blazers Edge and continually get told that Magloire is a black hole, well that concerns me.
  6. I'm frustrated that the way McMillan is trying to fix things is by messing with the lineup. I know that R-O-Y is a humongous part of our future. I know that I still can't help but compare him to Michael Jordan when I'm watching, even if that's basketball blasphemy. But I also know that we've been playing worse since he's been back. Maybe that's not his fault. Maybe it is connected to his return, but it's that the team doesn't have the same sense of need since he's back. But maybe it's because the tempo and rhythm really have been disrupted since he's come back. I'm not suggesting that we bench him, but I am suggesting that he doesn't play point guard. Not yet, at least. Let JJ and Sergio get those minutes still. Sure, Dixon and Webster will suffer some, but they're suffering will hurt the team less than the suffering of our starting point guard has.
I could probably list more things that are bothering me, but instead I'll try to brighten my own mood. This team still has a lot of great young talent. In fact, I still believe that it has the best group of young talent in the NBA. We still have a certifiable MVP candidate. Just look at league wide PER if you don't believe me. Maybe all that the team needs is some time with R-O-Y back to gel again. I did just say that they're young. The season has already gone better than expected, so instead of immediately assuming the worst, maybe I should see this as a bump in the road. So far this year adversity has brought the best out in this team, so why should right now be any different? And, in the very worst case scenario for this season, we continue struggling and end up with a terrible record and luck on our side in the lottery. And then? The best big man to enter the NBA in a very long time. No matter what, this team is still winning the championship in 2009, and I can't wait.

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