Sports

Blazers Eliminated by Suns, Questions Loom Large

| by Dwight Jaynes

Well, we’ve got months now to evaluate this season and to look ahead to next year. So we’ll save an in-depth analysis for all the dog days to come. At the same time, a few observations on Thursday night’s season-ender:

– Man, why did Jerryd Bayless keep entering that game? I know Andre Miller didn’t play well but he played just 18:26 compared to Bayless’s 29:10. One veteran media guy who has seen more NBA games than I have over the years turned to me at halftime and said, “That guy (Bayless) may be the most selfish player I’ve ever seen. And to keep putting him out there to watch him go to the basket to get his layups blocked is crazy.”

– Rudy Fernandez may have gotten hot in this game. Well, yes, he WAS hot. But seriously, he probably gave up more easy points than he scored. The guy bordered on tragic comedy at the defensive end.

– Martell Webster and Fernandez are pulling shots out of their backside, including several three-pointers with hands in their face, but when LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy come back in the game, the ball stops going to the weak side of the floor. It’s back to the two-man game with Roy and Aldridge and so the ball stops going to the hot hands. Stops cold. And speaking of cold, Roy was 4 for 16 and Aldridge was 5 for 17. Ugh.

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– See previous item when talking about the Portland coaching situation. Unless this team changes its offensive system (or actually finds an offensive “system”) this is what’s going to happen in the postseason. The whole scheme is dependent upon those two guys carrying the team with a series of one-on-one moves out of isolation. Works in the regular season when teams have no prep time and cannot adequately prepare in the avalanche of an 82-game season. But in the post-season with time to prepare? It’s a suicidal offensive scheme. Portland made the Suns’ defensive scheme look like the legendary Pistons’ Bad Boys defense.

– One thing I heard afterward from several people — “Well, the Suns were just the better team.” Yes, I’m afraid that’s correct, as long as Nate McMillan is coaching this team. All the injuries have bought McMillan another season — one more year to show what he’s doing isn’t going to work in the playoffs over the long term. I’m astounded at how people don’t look at how many open shots Blazer opponents get out of their offensive systems and how many contested shots Portland ends up having to shoot because its players cannot create their own shots against double and triple-teams.

– Yeah, the off-season will once again be filled with the Blazers searching for “another guy who can create his own shot.” Damn, Roy can do that as well as anybody but not against three guys. Already, the Blazers play more one-on-one than any other team in the league. Roy is in isolation more often than LeBron or Kobe. HELP THE MAN! Get him some stuff that he doesn’t have to turn himself into a pretzel to get! Move the ball and move bodies instead of just standing around! Yeah, I know, you’re sick of hearing that. But the problem is, you’re going to get even more sick of watching it in the future.

– The Blazers used 10 players by halftime. Damn, 10? This is supposed to be time to shorten the rotation, right?

– Nic Batum was sensational at defending Steve Nash. But Batum is also one of Portland’s best shooters and he got just one shot — with Steve Nash guarding him. And he played only 13:59. What a joke. So often, he exited for Bayless — who gave Nash someone to guard. The entire season, the Blazers never figured out how to use Batum’s length to challenge Nash. What a totally wasted opportunity. Instead, we saw Bayless trying to take him to the basket — which the Suns finally figured out how to stop. Man, just have a big man drop off his man and go block the shot — Bayless isn’t going to drop the ball off to anyone, he’s just going to try to force something up.

– Greg Oden? Bizarre. That’s all I can say. We’ll have more time to talk about it this summer, but man, this kid has a long way to go.