Around The World: April 17, 2014

by Casey Holdahl
Follow @chold

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Trail Blazers: Podcast: Rip City Report, Episode 15

“On this week’s edition, we briefly discuss the end of the regular season before going all-in on the first-round playoff series versus the Rockets. We look at the position-by-position matchups, talk “X-factors,” how Joel Freeland might factor into Portland’s rotation and answer some questions via Twitter. It’s a bit longer than usual, but the Trail Blazers haven’t been in the playoffs in a while, so there’s plenty to discuss.”

Trail Blazers: Schedule Set For First Round Games Versus Rockets

“Will all of the playoff scenarios now locked in, the NBA has released the full schedule for all of the first round matchups, including the four/five series in the Western Conference between the Trail Blazers and Rockets.”

Trail Blazers: Trail Blazers Defeat Clippers, Finish Regular Season With 54 Wins

“I actually wasn’t as tired as I thought I was going to be,” said Freeland. “I played 17 minutes and I felt great. The knee was fine, didn’t really have any pain at all when I was playing. The thing I was more worried about was my wind. I really thought I was going to get tired quick and I didn’t. I sustained and I felt good. I was really surprised.”

Trail Blazers: Notes & Quotes: Trail Blazers 110, Clippers 104

“Four players started all 82 games for the Trail Blazers (Batum, Lillard, Lopez, Matthews) for the first time in team history. Portland is the first NBA team to have four players start 82 games since the L.A. Lakers (Bryant, Fisher, Gasol, World Peace) in 2010-11 (Elias).”

Trail Blazers: Playoff Notes: Trail Blazers Vs. Rockets

“In four games against the Rockets, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 107 total points, his highest point total against any team this season. Aldridge also grabbed a total of 62 rebounds against Houston, his highest rebounding total again any opponent and second-highest rebounding average (15.5)”

Trail Blazers: Robin Lopez Named Recipient Of 2013-14 Maurice Lucas Award

"An avid reader, Lopez became involved in the community by becoming the face of the “READ BIG” literacy campaign, designed to inspire students to read. Lopez, the Trail Blazers, Portland Public Schools and Knowledge Universe partnered in November to inspire young students to develop an early love for reading as part of PPS’ efforts to help all Portland kids learn to read by 3rd Grade. Lopez, who has appeared at a number of reading assemblies at area schools this season, credits his mother, a high school teacher, for developing a love of books at an early age. ”

Oregon Live: What Are The Trail Blazers' Odds Of Advancing Past First Round Of Playoffs?

“But oddsmakers couldn’t care less about all the positive mojo. The Blazers remain a long shot in the Western Conference playoffs and appear to be an underdog in their series against the Rockets. The Bovada online sports book on Thursday released its championship odds, and the Blazers are 18-1 odds to win the West and 40-1 odds to win an NBA championship.’’

Oregon Live: Trail Blazers' Joel Freeland Enjoys Successful Return, Says 'Playoff Basketball Is What I Do'

“I think playoff basketball is what I do — it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be physical, it’s going to be a lot of push,” Freeland said. “I might, I might not, be playing as many minutes as I played tonight. But I feel like I’ll be ready for it.”

Oregon Live: Top 10 Trail Blazers Games Of The 2013-14 Regular Season

“With the Western Conference's fifth seed at stake, Portland survives in overtime in a thriller Wesley Matthews called the "best game of the year in the NBA" despite 47 points from Steph Curry.”

CSNNW: Damian Lillard Actually Did Very Well Against Patrick Beverley

"Beverley defended Lillard for 29 minutes and 51 seconds this season. Lillard hit 11 of his 21 shots from the field during that time and a red-hot five of his 10 three-point field goals. he scored 31 points in those nearly 30 minutes vs. Beverley."

Columbian: Blazers Notebook: Players Join Williams' Lead

"Fans who follow Blazers guard Mo Williams on Instagram, they know he’s very serious about the way he dresses from his tailored suits to the designs on his socks. According to some of the Blazers, they all have bought tailored suits to debut during the playoffs, with Williams being the driving force behind the idea. "

Blazersedge: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets: The Other Side Of The Story

"The Trail Blazers make their opponents pay for imprecision. Houston cannot turn over the ball and leave Portland easy, undeserved buckets on the run. Houston must keep the Blazers off of the offensive glass, as second-chance points lie near the heart of Portland's attack. The Rockets must make crisp rotations for 48 minutes. The Blazers play possum, hanging 8-9 points back then going on runs to close the gap when you think you've got the game won. Three-point shooting is their preferred vehicle. Slough off those weak-side close-outs for 3-4 possessions and you've just opened the door to disaster."

CNNSI: Don't Sleep On Rockets-Blazers

“Three other notable reasons for optimism for the Blazers: good health (the four starter besides Aldridge each played in all 82 games), major continuity and chemistry. Portland's lineup of Lillard, Matthews, Batum, Aldridge and Lopez logged 1,373 minutes this season, the second most of any five-man unit. Together, they posted an offensive rating of 111.5 and a defensive rating of 103, making for a pristine +8.5 net rating. Terry Stotts, in search of the first playoff-series victory of his head-coaching career, will ride that group as hard as he can.”

CNNSI: After Tearing Down Celtics, Ainge Is Ready To Rebuild

"I have some ideas and some plans that I'd like to do but there is just no guarantee we can do it," Ainge said. "We need to find good trading partners. Every summer we try to do something unique and special and we will definitely try this summer."

CNNSI: Thunder Will Get Test From Grizzlies

“Memphis will try to grind out possessions, pounding the ball into beefy big men Gasol and Zach Randolph, on the theory that OKC rim protector Serge Ibaka can't block everything around the hoop. Defensively, the Grizzlies will make it a priority to get back quickly in transition and take away the easy fast-break points that the Thunder rely on to supplement their jump-shot-heavy offense. If they slow the pace (which is their specialty, as the slowest team in the league) and defend the three-point shot well (they ranked 12th in opponents' percentage), the Grizzlies could keep the scores in the 90s. And if that happens, Memphis just might pull this off.”

ESPN: Will James And Durant Burn Out?

“The counterargument is that all of the all-time greats have done this at one time or another. Michael Jordan didn't miss a game in his early 30s when he three-peated. In his first three-peat, he missed only one game. And he averaged far more minutes than Durant and James. Never mind that he didn't play in each of the following seasons after the three-peat treks. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson both put in a string of marathon seasons, but Bird and Johnson hardly put in the same defensive work as James and Durant do in today's NBA.”

TrueHoop: What The NBA Can Learn From Other Sports

“Tracking data has shown that time on legs has a tremendous load effect on the athlete. Taking lazy jumpers for an hour and walking through plays might not sound all that arduous, but it actually creates a larger load than anticipated. The athlete is better off doing shorter, more intense sessions, and then being given more time to work through their recovery, nutrition and rest protocols in preparation for a game.”

ESPN: Series Preview: Rockets Versus Blazers

“A Beverley-Lillard scuffle at some point ... within the first 48 minutes. This one is perhaps more inevitable than bold, as both players had some choice words about the other after the teams' last meeting. Lillard thinks Beverley fouls incessantly; Beverley thinks Lillard whines. They'll get each other for at least four games.”

CBS: Final Western Conference Grades

“There was a serious slip midseason, and it was mostly due to injuries and probably, fatigue. But the Blazers snapped out of their lull, coming back to win 54 games take nine of their final 10. Their hot start where they sat atop the West for almost two months was a bit misleading because of a soft December schedule, but the Blazers firmly proved they belonged, especially once they got a healthy LaMarcus Aldridge back in the lineup.”

SLAM: Post-Up: Final Wild Wednesday

“Neither team had anything to play for and all the stars were resting (except Damian Lillard, who started to complete an 82-game season), but Portland and Los Angeles still gave fans a close game heading into the postseason. Will Barton put up a career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Blazers, who blew a 22-point lead and allowed the Clippers to get back into it. Jamal Crawford, one of the few vital Clippers playing, scored 15 of his 34 points in the third quarter to pull L.A.into the lead before Barton helped right the Blazers’ ship in the fourth.”

SLAM: Q & A: Isiah Thomas

“I love watching Tony Parker play—I think he has great command of his offense. He understands their schemes and their system. Chris Paul is very similar in terms of having a grasp and understanding his offense and what his coach his trying to get accomplished on the floor.”

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