Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Blazers head to Houston with a bit of energia!

Jason Quick of The Oregonian wrote an interesting article following the Blazer’s game 5 victory Tuesday night about the probability of seeing more Rudy Fernandez in game 6 and (with any luck) beyond.

The article addresses the fact that Fernandez played over 35 minutes in Tuesday’s game after averaging a little over 21 minutes in the first four games of the series.

Nate McMillan has even reportedly been considering inserting Rudy into the starting line-up, replacing rookie Nicholas Batum, who was a nice surprise this season at small forward but has seemed a little star-struck in the playoffs.

Now, this begs the question, is it a good idea to be making major line-up changes in the sixth game of a series in which we are holding on for dear life? In this case, I think the answer is a resounding si!

As the article points out, the lanky and skilled French rookie has been nothing but solid for the Blazers all season long. But in a seven-game series, which is a veritable sprint to the finish line, it doesn’t pay to keep a struggling younger guy in there in hopes he will suddenly “click” and find his game.

You need to go with the guys that have produced results for you, and Rudy, not Nicholas, has been that guy. Rudy has been one of the Blazer’s most dynamic players thus far in the series, coming off the bench and providing that instant dose of offense and speed that has kept the Rocket’s smothering defense honest.

Plus, the guy has shot 50% from the three-point line-you can’t tell me that the Rocket defenders aren’t conscious of where he is on the floor at all times, knowing there’s a half and half chance he’s going to make it from downtown.

Even if he doesn’t take the three-pointer, the fact that he is on the court takes attention away from Brandon Roy and Lamarcus Aldridge, opening up the lane for their attack.

Shifting gears a little bit….

At this point in the series, the Blazer’s have the luxury of knowing that no matter how much pressure they feel on themselves, it is nothing compared to what Yao and his teammates are undergoing. The Rockets had the series locked up at 3-1, needing only to waltz back into the building in which they blew out the Blazers in game one and get a victory.

But they blew it.

The crowd was too much, and they couldn’t handle the fact that Joel and Greg weren’t crippled by foul trouble. Now, with a slim lead of 3-2, the Rockets are back in their own building and in front of the fans that have seen them choke year after year in the first round.

I’m not sure of the exact statistic, but I’m pretty sure the Rockets haven’t been out of the first round of the playoffs since Eisenhower administration. No matter what they might say to the media, you can bet dollars to donuts that everyone in a Rockets jersey will be playing not to lose on Thursday night, instead of playing to win.

If the Blazers can remain confident and collected, playing their style of play that amassed 54 wins in the regular season, we should be seeing them back at the Garden for game seven.

This post written by Vanguard sports writer Doug Cornett

1 comment:

OldViking said...

Jason Quick wrote the article? I'm puzzled by this, as I'm sure he couldn't have forgotten Houston's '94 and '95 Championship WINS under former Blazer Clyde Drexler. So that comment about Houston not making it out of the playoffs since Eisenhower was a little odd. Especially when Houston didn't even HAVE a team back then.