NBA Roundtable

First Round: Phoenix vs Portland

In 2010 NBA Playoffs on April 18, 2010 at 11:00 pm

An interesting first half here in game one

#1 — Andre Miller has played Steve Nash to a stand still. Miller has free reign of the Blazers offense with Roy on the sidelines. He also has three athletic wing players who are dangerous in transition and two athletic big men in an open court game. Miller is going to create a lot of damage with his passing ability in this environment.

#2 — LaMarcus Aldridge has also played his mark, Amare Stoudemire, to a stand still. Not sure whether Aldridge can maintain this but if he can, Portland has a real shot at upsetting the Suns.

#3 — Marcus Camby has a huge advantage over the remaining Suns’ big men. His ability to create extra possessions through his rebounding and defense + play very effectively in a transition game will cause the Suns a lot of problems.

#4 — Portland’s three wing players – Rudy Fernandez, Nicolas Batum and Martell Webster – are largely comparable to their Phoenix Suns counterparts – Jason Richardson, Grant Hill and Jared Dudley.

Portland’s starting duo are explosive as is Jason Richardson. So, the Blazers wings are slightly more dynamic (capable of big games).

#5 — Portland is only six or seven players deep and will only use an eight man primary rotation in this series. Martell Webster, Jerryd Bayless and Juwan Howard.

Howard has played very well this season but I don’t trust him and I’m especially worried about him in a fast paced match against the Phoenix Suns. The Suns have a big advantage with their backup big men, Louis Amundson and Channing Frye.

The matchups at the guard spots are interesting. Two scoring guards in Jerryd Bayless and Leandro Barbosa. Barbosa being more of a shooter and Bayless more of a scorer. And then there’s Goran Dragic and his solid all-round game.

Jerryd Bayless will get a lot of scoring opportunities in this series due to Portland’s lack of fire power + Phoenix’s poor team defense. Bayless has had an up and down year but he is capable of a big series here (through his scoring ability) … particularly, when matched up against Nash, Richardson or Barbosa.

#6 — Jason Richardson has an advantage in the post against Rudy Fernandez but Phoenix has done a very poor job of taking advantage of these type of matchups with Richardson so I wouldn’t expect it to play much a role in this series.

I discounted Portland’s ability to beat Phoenix a few days but after watching that first half, I have to say, I think I was wrong about that. Portland’s starters are going to be very effective and should give them a legitimate shot.

I would still consider Phoenix the favourite though due to their superior bench. That depth should allow them to survive the series but Portland will give them a real go.

Nate McMillan has done a tremendous job this season with the Blazers throughout all their injuries. Very impressive work.

Other Observations

#7 — Nicolas Batum played terrific defense on Steve Nash. This combined with Andre Miller’s excellent play … and I think the matchup at the point is a wash.

#8 — LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby played very good pick and roll defense against Phoenix in general + against Nash in particular. That helped limit the Suns ball movement and forced Nash to over-dribble on numerous occasions.

#9 — Not wild about Leandro Barbosa. He has missed a lot of time this season and hasn’t played all that well when was fit. I don’t think he adds a lot matchup wise in this series either. That small backcourt bothers me. Portland has a lot of size on the wing and big strong point guard in Andre Miller, a lot of opportunities to cause Phoenix problems here.

The Suns might be better off benching him but I don’t think they’ll do that.

#10 — Amare Stoudemire had a poor performance tonight but I’m not convinced that continues as the series progresses. I need more convincing that LaMarcus Aldridge can neutralize Amare.

I expect Amare to ratchet it up another few notches in game two and be the difference between the two sides.

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