Blazers Nate McMillan Should be Worried

| by Dwight Jaynes

Yeah, I know, it’s only the preseason. But Coach Nate McMillan is concerned.

“Not good. Not good,” McMillan said matter-of-factly Wednesday. “We are going to have to be certainly much better.”

Way better. What concerns me a lot about this team is its seeming disinterest in establishing itself immediately as a team to be reckoned with. I covered the Clyde Drexler-Terry Porter teams of the early ’90s that were among the best two or three teams in the league for three seasons.

In the 1989, that team went 6-1 during the exhibition season, and what I remember is that team being seemingly so eager for the regular season to begin — so it could start pounding on people and showing the world how good it was. There was a confidence that led to a killer instinct that did not abate in the exhibition season. They didn’t care if it was a counting game or not — they wanted to kick your tail.

It was the same in 1990, when that team went 6-2.

Now there is a time — and you see it with the Lakers and Celtics — when you KNOW you’re so good (because you’ve already established it) that the exhibition season becomes a nuisance and you are confident enough not to worry about it.

But this Blazer team is nowhere close to that. And I’m disappointed we haven’t seen these guys play with more passion. There is no question in my mind that part of it is that these guys are a little spooked by the injuries. It’s almost an entire team out there playing to avoid injury. Perhaps that will change when the season starts but it’s certainly no way to play any sport.

And I do think that for the most part, the exhibition season has been a waste for the Trail Blazers. Yes, they do seem to have a better defensive scheme in place. But they’ve offset that by looking miles behind on offense. And really, where’s the passion? Where is the drive?

Their leader, Brandon Roy, has not looked interested at all in playing these games so how do you expect many of the other players to be passionate about it?

So what will I be looking for tonight, in the team’s final exhibition game? How about some emotion? Some passion? Why not go out and try to show Denver what it’s going to take to win the Northwest Division this season?

It’s time to get ready for real games.

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