Tag: Suns Trail Blazers

NBA Playoffs: Jerryd Bayless will not call Grant Hill old

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Grant Hill looked like he had found the Fountain of Youth right before this series — and it wasn’t just points, he was grabbing boards and creating steals and all the little things the team needs to win.

Oh yea, and he’s blocking shots. Just ask Jerryd Bayless.

Amare Stoudemire: "I never had a clue on how fun defense really is because we never played it"

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It’s seemed a revelation in the playoffs, but the Suns started playing defense just after the All-Star Break. Seriously. They kept putting up the mountains of points, but from the All-Star Game to the end of the season, the Suns were 12th in defensive efficiency in he league (according to ESPN’s John Hollinger).

Not great, but not bad, and with their offense all they need to be is not bad.

Since the game two switch of Grant Hill Defensive Stopper (still just weird to type that) on to Andre Miller in the Blazers/Suns series, the Suns defense is winning them a playoff series. Even Amare Stoudemire is in on the act, slowing LaMarcus Aldridge.

The Suns are having fun with this, according to the Arizona Republic:

“I never had a clue on how fun defense really is because we never played it,” Stoudemire said. “It was just such a great offensive team. We never talked about defense. There’s no weak link on the court defensively. We now are known as somewhat of a defensive team. It may get overshadowed here or there because we score so well.”

What sparked all this? A Jason Terry comment. Seriously.

On Jan. 28, a 26-21 Suns team was losing at home at halftime when the Suns locker room television became a mirror of truth.

There, for the Suns to see, Terry was giving a TNT halftime interview and saying: “We’ve got to score on these guys. They’re not very good defensively and we’ve got to make them pay.”

“With all the repetition and practice, it (Terry’s comment) sparked more of a defensive mind-set for us because we knew we had to defend to win that game,” Suns forward Grant Hill said. “We get in huddles and timeouts in fourth quarters or tough stretches and we talk about getting stops. Whereas before, we were always thinking about our offense. That comment sparked something in us that became personal when he said that.”

It is defense that is going to move the Suns on to the second round. It is defense that could have them upsetting the Mavericks (or maybe beating the Spurs is more likely).

Who knew it could be fun?

Rudy Fernandez has been given his chance, but has lost his confidence

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nba_fernandez_250.jpgRemember the Rudy Fernandez from the gold medal game in Beijing? The one with 13 points in nine minutes on the court. The one that made you think “Damn, Portland has another one, another great young player.”

That Rudy Fernandez has gone missing. And Portland could really use him, as he is starting in place of the injured Brandon Roy against the Suns (a series that tied up at one game a piece).

That Fernandez was confident, the kind of guy that women chase. But after rewatching all his plays from the first two games of the Suns series, he looks like a player without any belief in himself.

He is 2 of 9 from the floor for the series, 1 of 7 from three.  He has not driven the lane with any authority — all his shots have been jumpers, the closest he has gotten to the rim is a jumper from the elbow (he made that). He has four assists, but they are not things he created. Look at the two from Tuesday. One was a simple drop off to Marcus Camby as he moved through the offense, but the Suns defender dropped off Camby and dared him to hit the 18 footer (he did, the Suns should know better than to give him that shot near the top of the circle). The other was not really an assist, in early offense off a Suns miss Fernandez made an ordinary pass to Batum at the three point line, who held the ball for a second, took a couple dribbles left and when his defender stepped back to slow penetration he hit the pull up three.

Fernandez is playing passive, he is clearly unsure of himself. His issues with the Blazers system and coach Nate McMillan are well documented. He said he was frustrated that he was not getting enough minutes.He has talked about wanting to go back to Europe to play.

Well he’s getting his minutes in the playoffs, but all of that stuff from the past is clearly still impacting his game.

Credit the Suns for part of Fernadez’s struggles, they took Andre Miller out of the game by putting Grant Hill on him, which forced Fernandez into a more point guard role, one he is not suited to. The Suns Jason Richardson talked
about this
in a radio interview with KTAR in Phoenix yesterday.

“We know Andre is not only their playmaker but they rely
on a lot of scoring from him because Brandon Roy is down.  Make sure to
get the ball out of his hands making tougher to ask for anybody else to
get into their offense and then deny him the ball and make somebody else
beat us.  It will be a great scheme and it actually worked last night.”

Part of Fernandez role is to be the feared spot up guy, or a guy coming off screens and getting the shot if open (or making the post pass inside if not). The ultimate goal for the Blazers is to get the ball inside to Camby or LaMarcus Aldridge. But to get the ball inside means someone has to be an outside threat. There has to be balance.

Fernandez is supposed to be that balance. Right now he is not.

ESPN’s John Hollinger talked with Blazers coaches who had some ideas about how to get Fernandez involved.

To an extent, Blazers insiders will tell you that their offense makes it difficult for Fernandez to put up big numbers, and it hides some of his contributions. He’s usually not a primary ball handler, and often his main responsibility is to run a curl to set up a post-up for Aldridge before retreating to the opposite corner. When he does get touches, most often they’re for an immediate post entry to Aldridge — a tricky type of play that he executes as well as or better than anyone else on the team.

That said, the general sentiment before Game 2 was that Fernandez should attack the basket a bit more and not settle to be a jump shooter. This was particularly true given that the Suns were guarding him with Nash, one of their most vulnerable defenders, as he gives up 3 inches to Fernandez and can’t hope to match him in the air. For Fernandez to finish without a field goal in that matchup borders on embarrassing.

Without Roy, the Blazers are going to need Fernandez to step up, to make an offensive contribution and force the Suns to adjust. He has the game to do it.

But his head and his confidence seem to be back in Spain.

Nicolas Batum a game time decision for Blazers… but he'll play

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An MRI machine is an insanely expensive piece of equipment, but the Portland Trail Blazers certainly are getting their money’s worth out of theirs this year.

The latest news to come out of the machine is good for Portland — Nicolas Batum did no serious damage to his shoulder in game two of the series with Phoenix, according to the Oregonian. It is just a strain, and officially it is a game-time decision as to whether he plays tonight in game three.

He’s going to play. If this were the regular season, he’d sit. But this is the playoffs, he plays. It’s really not more complicated than that. Batum said he had a 75 percent chance of playing, that’s too low.

The injury occurred when Batum and Steve Nash collided going for a loose ball late in the third quarter. Because Batum had surgery on that shoulder earlier in the season, there was caution. But with a clear MRI, it’s time to get it on.

Your 2010 NBA Playoff Schedule


Here is the schedule to set your life — or at least your DVR — by for the next couple of weeks. Note that all times listed are Eastern. If you don’t live out East (and I don’t) then do the math in your head. It keeps you sharp.

Eastern Conference

Cleveland vs. Chicago
Game 1 – Sat April 17 at Cleveland 3:00PM ABC
Game 2 – Mon April 19 at Cleveland 8:00PM TNT
Game 3 – Thu April 22 at Chicago 7:00PM TNT
Game 4 – Sun April 25 at Chicago 3:30PM ABC
Game 5 * Tue April 27 at Cleveland TBD
Game 6 * Thu April 29 at Chicago TBD
Game 7 * Sat May 1 at Cleveland TBD

Orlando vs. Charlotte
Game 1 – Sun April 18 at Orlando 5:30PM TNT
Game 2 – Wed April 21 at Orlando 7:00PM TNT
Game 3 – Sat April 24 at Charlotte 2:00PM TNT
Game 4 – Mon April 26 at Charlotte TBD
Game 5 * Wed April 28 at Orlando TBD
Game 6 * Fri April 30 at Charlotte TBD
Game 7 * Sun May 2 at Orlando TBD

Atlanta vs. Milwaukee
Game 1 – Sat April 17 at Atlanta 5:30PM ESPN
Game 2 – Tue April 20 at Atlanta 7:00PM NBATV
Game 3 – Sat April 24 Milwaukee 7:00PM ESPN
Game 4 – Mon April 26 at Milwaukee TBD
Game 5 * Wed April 28 at Atlanta TBD
Game 6 * Fri April 30 at Milwaukee TBD
Game 7 * Sun May 2 at Atlanta TBD

Boston vs. Miami
Game 1 – Sat April 17 at Boston ESPN
Game 2 – Tue April 20 at Boston 8:00PM TNT
Game 3 – Fri April 23 at Miami 7:00PM ESPN
Game 4 – Sun April 25 at Miami 1:00PM ABC
Game 5 * Tue April 27 at Boston TBD
Game 6 * Thu April 29 at Miami TBD
Game 7 * Sat May 1 at Boston TNT

Western Conference

L.A. Lakers vs. Oklahoma City
Game 1 – Sun April 18 at L.A. Lakers 3:00PM ABC
Game 2 – Tue April 20 at L.A. Lakers 10:30PM TNT
Game 3 – Thu April 22 at Oklahoma City 9:30PM TNT
Game 4 – Sat April 24 at Oklahoma City 9:30PM ESPN
Game 5 * Tue April 27 at L.A. Lakers TBD
Game 6 * Fri April 30 at Oklahoma City TBD
Game 7 * Sun May 2 at L.A. Lakers TBD

Dallas vs. San Antonio
Game 1 – Sun April 18 at Dallas 8:00PM TNT
Game 2 – Wed April 21 at Dallas 9:30PM TNT
Game 3 – Fri April 23 San Antonio 9:30PM ESPN
Game 4 – Sun April 25 San Antonio 7:00PM TNT
Game 5 * Tue April 27 at Dallas TBD
Game 6 * Thu April 29 at San Antonio TBD
Game 7 * Sat May 1 at Dallas TNT

Phoenix vs. Portland
Game 1 – Sun April 18 at Phoenix 10:30PM TNT
Game 2 – Tue April 20 at Phoenix 10:00PM NBATV
Game 3 – Thu April 22 at Portland 10:00PM NBATV
Game 4 – Sat April 24 at Portland 4:30PM TNT
Game 5 * Mon April 26 at Phoenix TBD
Game 6 * Thu April 29 at Portland TBD
Game 7 * Sat May 1 at Phoenix TBD TNT

Denver vs. Utah
Game 1 – Sat April 17 at Denver 10:30PM ESPN
Game 2 – Mon April 19 at Denver 10:30PM TNT
Game 3 – Fri April 23 at Utah 10:30PM ESPN2
Game 4 – Sun April 25 at Utah 9:30PM TNT
Game 5 * Wed April 28 at Denver TBD
Game 6 * Fri April 30 at Utah TBD
Game 7 * Sun May 2 at Denver TBD