No Greg Oden. No Joel Przybilla. No Brandon Roy. No homecourt advantage.
The Blazers shocked the Suns in Phoenix to take Game One 105-100. The Blazers were without Brandon Roy, but were simply willing to do whatever it took to get the job done. They crashed the glass on both sides of the floor, utterly dominating the Suns inside, especially Amar’e Stoudemire. They were disciplined to a ridiculous degree, constantly slowing the pace down and getting back on transition defense to cut the head off the Phoenix snake. They ran off every three, and on offense, simply executed in whatever way they had to.
The hero was Andre Miller, who wound up with a “I know this sounds crazy but the line doesn’t do him justice” game of 31 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. He worked over Jason Richardson, who had one of the worst games of his career defensively. Miller on the other hand did everything. Drives inside, pull-up jumpers, even nailing a three when Richardson became confused on a rotation and simply conceded a three. Conceded a three! In the playoffs! I don’t care if Ben Wallace is on the outside, you have to run that off! (Of course, Miller had only hit 16 3 pointers all year, but right now number 17 is looking pretty important.)
But it was that kind of night for both clubs.
The Suns’ bread and butter, the unstoppable play, the Nash-Amare pick and roll was completely shut down. Amar’e went scoreless for the entire 2nd quarter, and looked like he was just waiting on free agency to start. The Blazers ran the double front on him, constantly working to deny the pass of the pick and severely limiting him. On the other end, the Blazers created open looks all over the floor, and Nicolas Batum was simply brilliant.
And yet, despite all of that, Steve Nash had a chance to tie with four seconds left.
So now the Suns have to look at themselves and figure out how the Blazers, with no Brandon Roy, with no Greg Oden, with no homecourt advantage, have taken them into the hole.
With no excuses.