The Blazers compromised on the pace of the game Sunday night–getting up and down the floor about 5 more times than they usually did this season–yet their efficiency didn’t seem to suffer. Portland scored 105 points in about 98 possessions, which is three points better than their season average would suggest playing at that pace. Phoenix, on the other hand, usually scores over 107 points every 98 possessions, yet managed just 100 against a Blazer defense that only got tougher as the season went on (and Batum and Camby joined in).
Camby swatted 3 shots and pulled in 17 boards, while Miller chimed in with 3 steals. Though Roy is obviously missed on the offensive end, the Blazer team defense didn’t seem to suffer at all while he was out for nearly 20 games during the season. Offensive efficiency dropped, but defensive efficiency actually improved slightly with Roy out of the lineup. If the Blazers are going to win this series without their leading scorer, they’ll need three more defensive efforts like the one Sunday night. And the great thing about defense is that it can show up every night. There might be a lid on the basket, but that defense will be there regardless.
It’s no coincidence that, despite being the Suns’ only inside presence this series, Amare had a less than Amare-like performance. He shot nearly 56% and collected 9 boards per game on the season, but shot just 42% last night with 8 rebounds in the first game of the series. While the rebounding drop was only 1, Stoudemire has to take his window cleaning up a notch with Lopez out.
I think it’s safe to say that with the new-found home court advantage, the Blazers have a legitimate chance to find themselves playing the Mavs in the second round with Roy back in the lineup. P.S. The Blazers were 3-1 against the Mavs this season, including two wins in Dallas 🙂
Tuesday night. 7 pm. Until then, enjoy this sweet video.
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