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Next Challenge: Blazers

Green Bandwagon has a very detailed preview of the Blazers game with extensive quotes from Blazers Edge.  Here are some:

"--On any given night only about half of these non-Roy/Aldridge guys are on offensively, but that's enough.  Portland rides the hot hand until it cools.  The best feature of the Blazer offense is ball movement.  This is the least selfish team you've seen in decades, guaranteed.  In fact they tend to break down quickly when there's a lot of one-on-one.  90% or more of Portland's shots are good looks.  That's the key.

--The Blazer defense is way better than the sum of its parts.  None of these guys outside of Przybilla are better than average defensively and many are worse.  But Portland plays an active zone, forcing the opponent to shoot over the top.  They rotate quickly, communicate, and hardly ever give up on plays.  Gone are the days when the opponent would get 20 fast break buckets in a game.  This team is smart about its shots and quick getting back.

--Surprisingly for a young team the Blazers do not turn the ball over.  They also draw a lot of fouls for a jumper-oriented squad.

--On a good night Portland will win by hitting shots, making your defense scramble to cover all five players, getting to the ball before you do, taking good care of it once they've got it, and limiting your easy shots.  The Blazers tend to be weak rebounding and defending the paint.  They almost never fast break or generate easy buckets.  They are vulnerable if they are missing or if you are scoring in transition or deep in the key.  At the beginning of the season the book on them was that they were soft.  Many teams have tried to bounce them around.  At first it worked, but somewhere along the line the youngsters decided to fight back.  Nowadays if you give them a black eye they will get up, stare you down, and score six on you in 30 seconds, probably elbowing you upside the head in the process." - Dave from Blazers Edge.

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