Sunday, December 7, 2008

TWBP: Road Warriors

Yes, I'm trying to use up all of the cheesy titles I can come up with for these posts. If you've got any suggestions, let me know.

Anyway, the Blazers hit the road for the first four games of yet another five game road trip this past week and came away with three wins. Considering that their only loss was to the defending champs, this was a very successful trip. Greg Oden has continued to be up and down, his minutes usually dictated by how successful he is at managing to stay out of foul trouble. He has at least succeeded in every game at getting the opponent's attention on the inside, which continues to give pass-first players like Steve Blake wide open looks that are just too wide open to pass up.

After an impressive win over the Pistons where Lamarcus Aldridge outplayed Rasheed Wallace in a pivotal matchup, the Blazers pulled out wins over New York and Washington where they didn't really play their best game. As the cliche goes, good teams find ways to beat bad teams even when they aren't playing well, and Portland has certainly found a way to make this work on a number of occasions this year. Brandon Roy has usually been the guy that has taken over late in games to will the team to victory, but at some point the Blazers will need to figure out how to close teams out without Roy putting the whole team on his back.

As far as the Boston loss went, I really don't have a ton to say about it other than that it was disappointing and Kevin Garnett is making a strong push for my Least Favorite Player in the league. It's not a game I expected Portland to win, but I was disappointed that it wasn't a close game, especially after the way the game started.

About the cards:
  • This box of cards didn't end up being completely junk, as I ended up with a Jermaine O'Neal rookie card. Not bad. Injuries have probably prevented O'Neal from ever being the superstar player that he looked like he was becoming during his peak years with the Pacers. His departure from Portland was a result of some shortsided thinking by the Blazers brass. Mike Dunleavy, his coach at the time, still contends that he did not want to get rid of O'Neal, but the Blazers GM had a different view as is often the case with these sorts of things.
  • Mark Bryant was one of my favorite bench players. He didn't offer much in the way of offensive skills, but he took up a lot of space in the post and was a smart player.
  • Mario Elie was another bench favorite of mine. He took over Danny Ainge's role in the '92-'93 season as the 3-point specialist and was a terrific dunker at that point in his career. He was best known for his time with the Rockets, winning two championships in the mid-90s. I liked the bumpy basketball design on these cards, but am generally not a fan of player names being displayed vertically.

Bonus: Here's the pocket schedule from the Blazers championship season. I wonder if there are any serious pocket schedule collectors out there.

Check out that eight game road trip in January. Yikes!

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