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Blazer Blog: Should Nate Go Small?

December 23, 2011

There is no team I respect more in the NBA than the Portland Trailblazers. They have been ravaged by injuries year-after-year and yet they keep on making the playoffs. Maybe it’s their hard-nosed, no-nonsense coach Nate McMillan…or maybe it’s just the high-character guys in that locker room. Whatever the reason, this group of Blazers have earned ‘street cred’ up the anus. That being said, you know what would get me to like them even more (if possible)?…if they went with a smaller lineup.

2010-11 was yet another injury-plagued season up in RIP City (Greg Oden, Brandon Roy…even Jeff Pendergraph went out for the year). They still made the playoffs as a 6th seedand, for a moment there, had the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks very nervous (I picked the Blazers in that series, mind you). Despite losing in the first round, some good things came from their late season run. Down the stretch and into the playoffs Nate went with a smaller lineup. He started LaMarcus Aldrdge at the center spot, with the newly acquired Gerald Wallace and Nicholas Batum at the forwards (who was the SF, who was the PF? we’ll never know). This went against Nate McMillan’s principles as coach, which have always been to make it a halfcourt game and limit the turnovers.What do you expect from a disciple of Larry Brown and George Karl? But as with most coaches, you have to go with what’s working out there on the floor. Look at Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. He was never a proponent of volume 3-point shooting, but his personnel in Orlando made him change his gameplan. The Blazers this upcoming season should make this adjustment.

I think a smaller lineup is the best look for the Portland Trailblazers in 2011-12. They definitely have the pieces to do it: Raymond Felton, Nolan Smith, Jamal Crawford, Eliot Williams, Wesley Matthews…it’s a talented group. Add to that the versatility of Batum and Wallace, and you have the makings of a dangerous lineup that can get out in the passing lanes and devastate opponents. Last season, the Blazers were 5th in the league in steals with over 8 per game…and that was with a more conventional lineup for most of the year. This season they have the potential to lead the league in both steals as well as fastbreak points. Forget the Los Angeles Clippers, this squad could be ‘Lob City North’.

Worried about how star LaMarcus Aldridge feels about playing uptempo? Well, he said recently that getting up and down the court is just fine with him. However, there is a concern that the Blazers could lose their main post scorer by having him matchup with bigger, stronger centers all night. For what it’s worth, Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar thinks that L.A. has the closest thing to his infamous ‘sky hook,’ allowing him to get his shot off over anybody in the post. That’s a pretty strong endorsement…despite coming from an ex-Laker. Meanwhile,the wiry and agile Marcus Camby wouldn’t mind a more uptempo game either…Kurt Thomas, though, that’s a different story. The 39-year old bigman is probably gonna hate this blog….

I’m excited about the current roster of the Portland Trailblazers (except for the name Brandon Roy missing, of course). It has the makings of a very dynamic team offensively as well as defensively…..but the key is to play an uptempo game. Nate might not want to do it, but it’s what will bring the most success up in the Northwest. Blazer fans are arguably the best and loudest fans in the league. As such, I have a chant I wanna hear at the Rose Garden in 2012…..RIP N’ RUN!!!

UPDATE (1/11): The Portland Trailblazers continue to start Marcus Camby and LaMarcus Aldridge, but have gone with Aldridge at center for the bulk of games. They’re in the top 10 in scoring and lead the Western Conference standings.

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5 Responses to Blazer Blog: Should Nate Go Small?

  1. Nathan on January 1, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Great point. I have been telling people for years the Blazers should play small ball and run guys out of the gym. Nate is finally listening.

  2. Silent Danny Fortson on January 5, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Nate will never go with a fastbreaking team, not in my life time. When Blazers score 100+ it is by accidente not by design.

    • Shivang on December 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm

      Portland on Chris Paul’s list. It’d be great to acquire him, but the cost trbluoes me. Portland doesn’t need him; he’s a want. Chris Paul offers Paul Allen a chance to overhaul his image.

  3. Easy Jeeazy on January 11, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    good call here, look like McMillan reads this blog ha

  4. Greg H on January 12, 2012 at 7:13 am

    The Blazers are runnin’ n gunnin. i can’t believe it. LA for MVP!

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