FO with the FOES: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS

Posted by: Philadunkia
01/20/10 5:36 pm EST

This edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” — Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews upcoming 76ers opponents — features tonight’s opponent down at the Wachovia Center, our man Andre Miller  and his Portland TrailBlazers. 

Believe it or not, we expect the 76ers to win this game tonight.  Yes we know Vegas has installed the Sixers as a two point dog at home.  And yes we know that Portland (25-17) is a very talented team that is currently holding on to 5th place in the brutally tough Western Conference.  And yes we can see that Portland presents serious match-up problems for our home team.  And yes we realize that the Blazers have already beaten the Lakers and Magic this month.  And of course we also remember that the Sixers are coming off arguably their worst effort of the season in Minnesota on Monday.  And yes we’re absolutely aware that Eddie Jordan is still our head coach.

Despite all of the above, we still expect the Sixers to win tonight.  We say this with confidence for three reasons.  The first is that the 76ers should be so embarrassed by their L in Minnesota on Monday that they should be good and fired up and come out of the locker room ready to demolish the Blazers tonight.  We’re talking about next level energy here.  Anything less then a 110% effort on both ends of the floor tonight by the Sixers will allow their collective manhood to be openly questioned by the fans. 

The second reason is the “Andre Miller factor”.  If the Sixers loose this game and Miller plays well, it will be a slap in the face to the front office and the Sixers as a team.  Personally we bet the Sixers players, especially Louis Williams, are very tired of hearing how much this team misses Miller and how lost they are without him.  They’ll use that extra motivation to man-up and completely shut down Miller tonight.

The last reason behind our air of confidence is the fact that the Blazers have not won in Philly since December of 2006.  Back in December, the 2009-10 Sixers beat the Brandon Roy and the current Blazers by eleven points in Portland.  The Blazers are coming off a loss at Washington on Monday and have been on the road for four straight days, so we look for Portland’s loosing ways in Philly to continue in 2010.

In short, because of the basketball reasons listed above and some sort of recent Philly “jinx”, we’re predicting a W tonight for Philadunkia’s home team.  

For a little more insight into the TrailBlazers team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Andrew R. Tonry from portlandroundballscoiety.com from us here at Philadunkia as well as provide us with two points of analysis on the Portland squad from an insider’s perspective.

Philadunkia :  The Blazers are 25-17 and sitting in the 5th spot for the Western Conference playoffs, so they’re having a solid season. Yet from the outside everything we hear is about under-performing or general unhappiness with the team.  What gives and are people out of their minds given the injuries in Blazer-ville?

Andrew R. Tonry @ portlandroundballscoiety.com : I’m not sure where you’re hearing about discontent in Stumptown (must be blogs… uh oh).  The only recent tumult I can think of was the dust-up between coach McMillan and Andre Miller two weeks ago, but it turned about to be one of the best things that’s happened all season.  After making an apology–what we believe to be his first ever in Portland–McMillan seemed to make a change.  Andre Miller got more meaningful fourth quarter minutes, and is finally getting opportunity to back opposing guards down and run the game (a little) more like he sees fit.

The simple fact is, with all their injuries, Portland are winning games people have every right to think they shouldn’t.  In fact, when the injuries happened, the pressure surrounding the team was somewhat alleviated.  Everything’s gravy now and they know it.

Philadunkia :  Let’s talk about Andre Miller. We were big fans of his here at Philadunkia and we firmly believe that his departure is one of the reasons the 76ers are just awful this year. What are your thoughts on Miller at nearly the half-way point of the 2010 and has he caused as much drama in Portland as it is rumored? 

Andrew R. Tonry @ portlandroundballscoiety.com :  McMillan did a horrible job working with Andre, which seems to have changed with the yelling match I mentioned above.  Since, Andre’s been playing his best ball of the season.

There is still a disconnect between Miller and many Portland fans, and perhaps also his teammates.  The guy is incredibly introverted, which leads fans to misunderstand his actions and motives (I think they picture him as assuming or narcissistic).  Also, Miller doesn’t seem to have cracked the social circles his teammates developed before he arrived.  That doesn’t mean he can’t or he wont.  Indeed, I hope he does. Because I’d much rather see Steve Blake on a bus out of town.

Here, I have a question for you: Was Andre palling around with the other Sixers when he played in Philly?  Did he hang around after games with friends, teammates or family?

The worst of the drama between Andre and coach McMillan is over, but it’s amazing things ever escalated to the levels they did.  Before Andre was signed, he and McMillan two went out to dinner and shared how they saw things.  After, McMillan claimed he’d found the perfect fit. So either one of these two things happened: 1.) McMillan said he’d let Andre do his thing then didn’t, and maybe even said he wanted a more up-tempo offense. Everyone in Portland knows that one thing a Nate McMillan team with Brandon Roy will never do is run. Scenario 2.) Andre wasn’t getting many good offers and told McMillan everything he wanted to hear, then decided to do none of it.
In the end, I think both Nate and players like Roy, who insist they “need the ball in their hands,” are finally finding out how an experienced point guard with the ability to freelance makes their lives easier.
After all, I’d rather have signed Andre Miller, and had him go Sprewell on McMillan than ended up with a fat contract with greasy fingerprints and Hedo Turkoglu’s name on the bottom.

Two Points of Analysis from Andrew R. Tonry @ portlandroundballscoiety.com:

1.) Portland just got beat by the Wizards. This is embarrassing, even if Brandon Roy sat out with a sore hamstring. He figures to return at Philadelphia.  How will he look after missing two games?

2.) For whatever reason, the Sixers have given the Blazers fits these last few years, bothat home and away. Roy, Aldridge and a few others have NEVER won in Philadelphia (the last Blazer win there came in 2006).  Are they gonna get the damn monkey off their backs or what?


 
 
 

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