(FINAL UPDATE AND SEASON SUMMARY)
Sometimes that sinking gut feeling cannot be ignored. I got it when I read Terry Stotts was going with the 8 man rotation for the bubble games, and it crept up again during the Celtics game. Here we are again Blazers fans despite Charlie B’s optimism. For me the final straw was when I turned on the game in the middle of the 2nd quarter of the second playoff game with the Lakers. End of season.
Close, but no cigar. Could it be SSS ? You have to consider the possibility. There will be an infinite amount of opinions and speculation about the Blazers situation coming from all corners.
Will the Blazers stay with Stotts and much of the managerial staff (as in Olshey)? If they do not get to the finals next year, things do not look good by the numbers. The 2020-21 season, if there is one, will be a peak numerical opportunity for this franchise. After that it is truly an uphill climb from a numerical point of view.
Here is my Blazers dream team for the 2020-21 season.
At the1. Damian Lillard, a seasoned consistent back up with 6th man award potential, possibly give Ant another year, but he does not look like a budding superstar as of now.
At the 2. CJ, a consistent veteran back up, Gary T. Jr.
At the 3. Rodney Hood, Ariza, Carmelo.
At the 4. Bring back LA with a reduced salary, Kevin Love at a near minimum salary just to finish out his career in his home town. (And yes, he can still contribute). Zach, if they can’t find anyone better.
At the 5. Nurk, Whiteside, if he will play at a reduced salary, a good solid vet or raw talented youngster.
True, there is still not much defense in this group, but a lot of fire power. Could be hard on the budget, without some players taking cuts. Well, I am much less interested at this point (see the coronavirus article). There are issues in our world that need far more attention from every citizen.
P.S. Expect the unexpected in the draft this year. Olshey has often defied the obvious in the past (for better or worse) with Paul Allen’s approval (assistance?). There could be a trade (s?), and/or swap, upward move, totally unexpected player by league standards; as in Anfernee & others.
SECOND LAKERS GAME-Well, they stirred up a sleeping giant tonight after previously frustrating a couple of big egos.
PLAY OFF TIME. First game down and they worked through the possible funk. I have not had time to really look closely at this match, but if they get to the finals, I will try to explore the numbers in depth. Where’s Ant?
(Update 4) Gut wrenching win over the Grizzlies. Glad I was wrong. Now comes the test. Maybe it won’t be SSS. Maybe the Lakers are just better. Credit Dames’s leadership and all out conviction.
(Update 3) Whew! Dame wills another win over Dallas. Beats the curse for the moment.
(Update 2) Just finished the 76ers game. Boy, they came perilously close to losing it before being bailed out by Dame’s Herculean effort. He just willed them not to lose. GTJ finally came down to earth. Hope it is not the start of a slump. Good to see Hezonja come alive. He might still turn into the sleeper I predicted before the season. Since it is a shortened season, a rested Dame might be able to sustain them for a while. However, not as likely if they get into the real play offs.
If they rely upon him too much and lose the total team confident playing, SSS can still rule. Not to totally blame the coach. Everyone has too take responsibility, but the coach does set the tone. And it has been a reoccurring pattern that comes up too often if they want to be champions. Blazer fans have to worry since upcoming Dallas has a past history of upsetting the Blazers when unexpected, and /or when the Blazers need a win. San Antonio and Phoenix are salivating with the thought of a Dallas win.
(Update) Just finished the Nuggets game. One word reveals what might pull them out of the funk. DAME. I probably should have taken a closer look at his chart before posting this! The Clippers game will reveal a lot. A tough match could be Phoenix in the decider for the last play off spot. P. S. The new TV announcers are doing really well. Kevin Calabwho? I miss Mike and Mike.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE STARTS HERE
I was reading an article days ago about the coming reopening of the Trail blazers 2019-20 season. Terry Stotts announced he would likely go with an 8 man rotation. Something inside shuddered and I had a sinking feeling this was the beginning of the end for the Blazers this year. It appeared that SSS was creeping up again.
Throughout his tenure as coach one theme has reappeared dozens of time during the seasons. Stotts tightens up and relies on a few players using a small rotation, rather than playing the talent and giving them valuable playing time. Blazers get far behind and the core players work their butts off to nearly catch up, but lose. Takes an enormous toll upon the body and tires the core of the team (not to mention the price upon the group psyche). And you have to add in the possibility of injury from so much time given to so few. Blazers get far ahead and then turn around and throw the lead through careless errors and sloppy play.
I am afraid that the Stotts Sphincter syndrome has set in once again. When he gets stressed, he shuts down the team and goes into his passive defensive banal during pre/during/ and post game interviews. The Blazers have always been at their best when he lets go and plays the talent, releasing the kids to joyfully play their hearts out. After all, it is a game! Yeah, sure you have to have some structure and consistency. But think what Ant might have been doing in the bubble if he had gotten 10 or 12 minutes in so many of the games this season when they burned out the core players in desperate catch up games. Yes, each has their responsibility and you cannot put it all on one person.
Yes, it is common practice for coaches in the league to go to a tested rotation when the going gets rough. In this case it signals an unconscious fear that I do not trust my bench, rather than a tested and tried system. Imagine what it must do to the psyche of the young Anfernee Simons (and other players). He played some good ball in the scrimmages and showed signs of awakening. What was his reward? Forty eight minutes on the bench.
It is common knowledge that the Blazers do not have much depth after the starters. I say you get depth by playing your players. Example, Gary Trent Jr. So many times the core players have become worn out trying to catch up only to lose.
Imagine the valuable experience that could have been gained playing the bench and giving experience to the many.
If I had a couple super computers and a lot of time I might find a numerological trend and explanation for this. More likely a three hour session with the mentor might better get to heart of the matter. As I watched the Blazers playing the Celtics in the second quarter I could sense that old pattern return. I turned the telly off and got that nagging feeling the season is over. Yes, they will scrap and fight and play their hearts out to the end.
Close, but no cigar. I hope I am wrong.