Around The World: April 8, 2014
Trail Blazers: Trail Blazers Meet Tonie And Candace On 'Portlandia'
“The full episode of “Portlandia” starring Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen and featuring the Trail Blazers, Paul Allen and the BlazerDancers, much of which was shot at the team’s practice facility in Tualatin, airs Thursday at 10 PM on IFC. But here’s a taste of the segment with “feminist bookstore owners” Toni and Candace trying to buoy the spirits of LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Robin Lopez (whose hair has really grown since October), Thomas Robinson and a still broken-footed C.J. McCollum.”
Trail Blazers: Running The Break
“When the Blazers won 54 games in 2008-09 and hosted the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs, they definitely needed home court advantage to have a chance at the second round. That team was almost unbeatable at home, and was one game under .500 on the road. Home court didn’t help, of course, since Houston came into the Rose Garden and promptly blew out the Blazers in game one and effectively ended the series. However, that was a young team with no meaningful playoff experience that needed the backing of the home fans to win games. This team is a little different. The Blazers’ road record was hurt some in March with those two very difficult road trips, but for the most part, they have bee more than capable of getting big wins away from the Rose City. That’s the long answer. The short answer is no, the Blazers don’t “need” home court to win in the first road.”
“I just want to get there and play whoever,” said LaMarcus Aldridge. “We’ve played well versus everybody.”
"For the second time in four seasons, members of the Portland Trail Blazers will be featured on an episode of the hit IFC Comedy “Portlandia” starring Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen. Last time, it was LaMarcus Aldridge playing Penny Marshall’s love interest at a feminist bookstore. This time, it’s Aldridge along with Damian Lillard, Robin Lopez, Thomas Robinson, C.J. McCollum, Paul Allen and the BlazerDancers getting some help from feminist bookstore owners Toni and Candace."
Trail Blazers: Trail Blazers Playoff-Clinching Notes
“The Trail Blazers are 97-115 all-time in the playoffs. They have a 25-81 record on the road and are 72-34 at home.”
“The most likely scenario is the Trail Blazers playing the Rockets in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup and with Houston owning home court advantage. And actually, the second most likely scenario is the Trail Blazers playing the Rockets, but with Portland owning home court advantage. So either way, the safe bet is the Blazers and Rockets face off either in Portland or Houston in the third week of April, just as they did in 2009.”
“I want to play,’’ said Matthews, who is fourth on the team in minutes per game at 34.1. “I see the logic (in resting), I see the safeness in it. But we are trying to lock up a spot. Trying to lock up that fifth spot, maybe possibly the off chance of that fourth spot. I want to play and win out.’’
“Robin Lopez. I had no idea he was this good. I should have known, though, because he started to show very positive signs last season, signs that Neil Olshey -- who had a sensational summer -- surely noted. Lopez fit this team -- and this town -- perfectly.”
Rip City Project: What Does Joel Freeland's Loss Mean?
"But Freeland does matter, mostly because of who he replaces. Thomas Robinson has been a fixture since the injury, dropping below ten minutes just twice. Per ESPN’s numbers, he’s the tenth-worst power forward in the league. Dane Carbaugh at Blazer’s Edge had a great breakdown a while back of the myriad ways Robinson gums up Portland’s offense. Truth be told, they both do that some. The difference is that T-Rob does it while moving LaMarcus Aldridge to center, while Freeland is a center. Ultimately, though, there’s not much difference, and the metrics all a) disagree with each other and b) say that neither is great."
“The Blazers aren't doomed. I expect a hard-fought series. Anything can happen on a given night. That's why they play the games. But peel back all those hopeful cliches and you're left with the conclusion that the Blazers probably won't emerge from the first round. And even if they do, that doesn't spell a long playoff run...more of a pleasant surprise. The Blazers just aren't built for the playoffs yet and it's likely to show."
“Again, Larry Sanders is alleged to have been in a bar fight earlier this season. Alcohol, as anyone that has been in a bar fight is aware, often tends to encourage these things. Basketball players are asked to hit their peak hours between 7:30 and 10 at night, 82 times a season, while putting on a nice guy face for the media for a half-hour afterward before attempting to sleep and be up for shootaround the next morning. It’s a weird schedule. There are lots of cameras. There is also quite a bit of banging going around, induced pains that aren’t exactly mollified by a heaping helping of anti-inflammatory pills.’’
“As has been the case at several points this season, a lot of the sturm und drang has to do with the relationship, on the court and off it, between 2011 No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving and 2012 No. 4 overall pick Dion Waiters, two ball-dominating score-first guards have had difficulties dovetailing over the past two years. The recent run that got the Cavs back in striking distance of the eighth seed came thanks in large part to Waiters playing well (22 points, five assists, three rebounds and a steal per game, including a game-winner to beat the Pistons) following a move into the starting lineup while Irving recuperated from a left biceps strain."
"With that, the profile comparison between the Blazers and Grizzlies isn’t a matter of preference between facing an elite offense vs. taking on an elite defense. It’s a preference to play against a vulnerable team as opposed to a reliable one. Since Jan. 1 Portland has just barely registered as a top-10 team in scoring efficiency. Memphis, by contrast, ranks a solid third in overall defense. Leaning on recency has its own pitfalls, but these are the same Grizzlies that have three postseason’s worth of defensive precedent in their favor. Theirs is the sturdier case as suggested by their loftier regard."
“I’ve always said I don’t condone things that I know you shouldn’t do,” Woodson said. “No, I’m not happy about this. He was warned, he comes back and he makes the same mistake, it’s not right. I just got the information, I’m going to address it [Thursday] when he comes in here for work. It’s unacceptable. It really is. It’s unprofessional. That’s the only word I can use. … You can’t do that. You just cannot do it. … At the end of the day, he’s got to grow up. These things have got to stop.”
“Running the break and getting to the basket in the pick-and-roll have always been among his strengths, but Dragic's improved three-point shooting, which jumped from 31.9 percent last season to 41.7 percent this season has completed the offensive package. "Defenses can't just go under screens and play him for the drive anymore, because he'll just pull up and hit that outside shot," said Hornacek. "Now there are no easy answers against him."
“Dumars has spent 29 years with the franchise, as both a player and an executive, and has had a hand in every Detroit title. Drafted in 1985, he retired as a player in 1999 and took over as Pistons president in 2000. His changes led to a title in 2004, followed by another Finals appearance the next season."
TrueLosAngeles: Nice Guy Pau Gasol
“Gasol is one of the nice guys. All of his on-court kvetching amounts to nothing more than a rubbed head or two. He credits Magic Johnson's HIV diagnosis for inspiring him to become a doctor. In his “Lakers profile” -- one of the midgame entertainment reels broadcast on the Staples Center big board, in which guys like Nick Young talk about things like “spaghetti cake” -- Gasol describes himself in one word as “multifaceted.” Most superstar athletes become conditioned to look right through people; Kobe Bryant, for example, strides with purpose as if Aloe Blacc is his internal monologue. Gasol remains observant. On a recent trip to Staples Center my eyes happened to cross paths with Gasol’s, and to my surprise, he smiled back at me, a total stranger sort of creepily gawking at him. Dude is nice. "