Blazer spectacle points to a big issue
- Dwight Jaynes
- Portland Tribune - Sports
First, it's a very long season. You can't get too carried away with success or failure after just four games. That would be absurd.
But I think it's possible to describe how the Trail Blazers have played, in general, during those four games. And, of course, it's understood that if we say they've looked awful, that doesn't mean they're an awful team. Even good teams can play bad games.
OK, enough disclaimers for one day? Good, because so far, what you've seen out of the Blazers is pretty embarrassing. Especially the Saturday night fiasco against the Denver Nuggets, one of the worst NBA teams in recent memory. Losing by 17 in the Rose Garden to those guys is unconscionable.
And, really, the common thread is, the Blazers have been poorly organized at both ends of the floor.
On defense, Portland has seemed unfocused and lacking in any understanding of team principles. In the NBA, it's almost impossible to defend players one-on-one. The guy with the ball has a big edge. Consequently, help is almost constantly required. If your man beats you, someone else helps out, and you go look to pick up his man.
But with the Blazers, when one man gets beat, it's an open invitation to a lay-in. There's no help. The Nuggets didn't score 60 points in the paint because they have a horde of outstanding post-up players. They scored inside because they simply took the ball to the basket and weren't challenged.
On offense, Portland has looked old, slow and, again, disorganized. I don't see how you can go an entire game, like Saturday against Denver, and not get a fast-break basket. Easy baskets are the backbone of any NBA offense. If you don't run, you have to execute some form of offense that will get other easy baskets.
The Blazers have mostly settled for one-on-one stuff and isolations from players who, frankly, aren't all that talented one-on-one.
Losing to the Sacramento Kings at Arco Arena isn't any big deal. Every team in the league will do that, I would think. But losing to the Nuggets and the Shaq-less Lakers is a problem.
Worse, the Blazers have given an indication Ñ and, yes, we're just talking about these four games Ñ of a deeper problem. And I'm not talking about the old chemistry issues. You're always going to have those when you overestimate how talented your team is and you load the roster with players who believe they're starters.
Nope, the biggest problem so far is this: Bottom line, the Blazers look extremely poorly coached. When you're as inept on help defense as they've been and when you don't appear to have a clue what you're doing on offense, that's a signal you're either not doing what the coach says Ñ or the coach isn't saying anything.
Sorry, I don't care how much they like Maurice Cheeks Ñ and I won't hesitate to point out it's irrelevant whether they do or not Ñ the Blazers are making their coach look bad.