On Tap: The Portland Trailblazers

Kurt —  April 14, 2006

First Round: Who do you want? I posed that question in a poll recently and 75% of you said Dallas, and I was with you because the Lakers match up best against Dallas (basically, the Mavs can’t slow Kobe). However, with Phoenix stumbling of late and not playing good defense, I’m having some second thoughts. (And yes, I know Phoenix crushed Dallas last night, Gatinho and I caught a little of it between beers, but that was the second game of a back-to-back for Dallas). I’d probably still lean Dallas, but Phoenix doesn’t look quite as daunting.

The “race” between the Lakers and Kings for the “privilege” of playing San Antonio/Dallas and or Phoenix in the first round stands like this: Currently the Lakers are one game up on the Kings with three to play (thanks to that Kings’ collapse against Phoenix a few nights back). If the two teams finish tied, the Kings have the tiebreaker. The Lakers have three games left — two very winnable ones (Portland tonight and New Orleans) and one against the Suns. If the Lakers go 2-1 than the Kings need to go 3-0. The game they are most likely to lose is Saturday at Denver, so watch that score with interest.

Win and your in: A Laker win tonight makes a playoff spot official. Don’t take that for granted though, the Lakers have already dropped two of three to the Blazers.

It has been the backcourt duo of Steve Blake and Juan Dixon that has given the Lakers fits, although Dixon did not suit up against the Clippers two nights ago and may not play today. Expect to see a little more Jarrett Jack. Last time the Lakers and Blazers played, Blake had 19 points — and the Lakers need to stay with him beyond the arc, he’s shooting 44.4% from three point range in the last 10 games.

Let’s say something nice about the Blazers: This is not as easy as it sounds — they have a $60 million payroll that bought them the worst record in the league; Darius Miles was suspended for tonight’s game after he took off his uniform and changed into street clothes at halftime against the Clippers two nights ago; their owner screwed himself in a stadium deal then went public to complain about it, and is now trying to sell the team; they haven’t been good for a few years and it may be a few more before they are.

But they do have the best group of bloggers out there. Henry at True Hoop is a Blazers fan. Lance Uppercut of Blazers Edge is one of the best writers in the NBA blogsphere. Rip City 24/7 does good work. So at least there are plenty of places for Blazer fan to commiserate.

Key to a Laker win:
Defense. Portland is dead last in the league in offense in just about any measure you choose — efficiency (98 points per 100 possessions, 7 points back of the Lakers), points scored, free throw shooting percentage. The good news is they are second to last in team true shooting percentage (51%), Charlotte is worse. In the last 10 games Zach Randolph is leading the team in scoring, 14.1 per game, but is shooting just 36.3%.

The Lakers should, should, be able to shut down the Blazers. They also should, should, be able to score plenty. Portland is second to last in the league in defensive efficency (109.5 points per 100 opponent possessions), ahead of only historically bad Seattle. Plus, Patterson is gone, but he didn’t really stop Kobe anyway.

Also Odom is a huge match up problem for the Blazers. But maybe we should ask commenter Kwame a., since he called Odom’s triple double the other night.

Kurt

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13 responses to On Tap: The Portland Trailblazers

  1. DJ not damon jones April 14, 2006 at 12:10 pm

    if the lakers don’t win tonight, it’s a dissapointment. that’s all i have to say.

  2. Bill Simmons says Kobe is the MVP, and also gives props to 82games.com

  3. I saw that. And by the way, Simmons does get stats, he has mentioned 82games before and Hollinger.

    I am planning to do MVP on Monday (I really do plan these things in advance, sometimes), and I think it’s safe to say Kobe makes my top 5.

  4. I was amazed by Simmons’ pick. Never thought he would swallow it and say Kobe was the MVP – it almost feels like i”m vindacated for reading his columns bashing him so much all year.

    that being said.. who else on ESPN (not insider) really writes NBA columns with consistency? We had a Clippers and MVP column in back to back weeks.. i’m lovin it

  5. I’ve seen some articles on the MVP race that doesn’t even have Kobe within the top 5! And naturally, all the ones that have him in the top 5 have him as the MVP…That hate me or love me deal really goes a long way

  6. notreallyimportant April 14, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    Reading the Sports Guy’s article actually brought a tear to my eye.

    Also it was good to see Sheridan’s article where he points out that there is still a chance that Bosh doesn’t sign an extension with the Raptors. If only we could get him…

  7. notreallyimportant April 14, 2006 at 7:41 pm

    Also can anyone explain why True Shooting Percentage give so mcuh weight to free throws?

  8. chris henderson April 15, 2006 at 11:23 am

    so, we saw Phli play McKie and Bynum in the 2nd quarter, (and we lost our lead) and I can only guess he’s trying to see who will make the playoff roster.
    do you think that was what that was all about?
    I read where he was upset that the league makes the teams cut from 15 to 13 players…
    so who will go? does Von Wafer count since he’s down at the D league? I have to imagine that Andrew will be on the roster, need the bigs.
    so, who’s going to get cut/ and what will our playoff roster be?

  9. Thanks for the kind words. It helps to heal the wounds attained from losing over and over and over again. I’ll never throw a bottle of beer at a Laker fan again, I swear.

  10. I think you have to keep Bynum on the playoff roster just becuase we don’t have a lot of big men. Wafer will stay in the D-League, and I would guess McKie is the odd man out.

    Notreally, it’s not that true shooting weights free throws so heavily so much as it counts them at all, which most shooting percentages don’t. The formula is:

    TS% = Pts/(2*(FGA + (.44*FTA)))

    Basically, you’re taking 44% of the free throw attempts and counting them as a shot attempt, which I know sounds odd but it works out pretty closely, you figure there is the occasional and1 but most of the time you just get the two shots.

    Now, with Kobe his TS% blows his shooting percentage away because of how often he gets to the line (he leads the league if FTA per game) and how many of those he makes. It’s a big part of his points.

  11. notreallyimportant April 15, 2006 at 8:39 pm

    Yes, but it is possible to get a Ts% of over a 100.

  12. i would assume wafer and devin green would be the players that’ll be trimmed.

    mckie looks like trash so far, but i’m pretty sure he won’t get the boot for a rookie.

  13. Yes, it is possible to get a TS% over 100%, but to do that you would have to average more than 2 points per shot attempt, meaning all you did was hit three pointers or get the and1 foul every time you shot. It’s not going to happen.