Shoals and Ziller preview each NBA playoff series.
The Blazers will miss Brandon Roy, but the Suns still miss Shawn Marion, so get over it, Oregon! Despite devastating news that Roy must leap into that surgical void (devastating even for a neutral fan), there's plenty of fun to be had between the Suns and Blazers. Just don't ask Andre Miller's face to provide it.
What dost thee Deities of Basketball decree?
So belittled by injuries have the Blazers been -- that Greg Oden, Joel Przybilla and now Roy will season-ending injuries, plus time missed for Nicolas Batum, Travis Outlaw and Rudy Fernandez -- that it's no longer sad. It's just uncomfortable to watch. The Rockets of 2008-09 weren't entirely different, with Tracy McGrady exiting in February and Yao Ming getting knocked out early in Houston's second-round series against the Lakers. The Rockets still pushed L.A. to seven games. Might Portland have some Custer in them?
Popular misconception: the Basketball Gods love defense. Wrong! Why else would Patrick Ewing be so ugly, and Allan Houston so pretty? The Gods could very well reward the Suns for turning their back on "The Right Way" in the team's 2009-10 return to up-tempo basketball.
Everything revolves around 2010 free agency. How will this series affect the summer most?
Who will think of Europe? After Bargnani, the Old World has regressed a bit in terms of NBA influence, becoming of late an empty threat for angered American free agents, and a real threat for angered international free agents in the NBA. And that brings us to Rudy Fernandez, semi-disgruntled Blazer, following the path of Spanish Chocolate. Rudy's role shrunk as Batum and Martell Webster solidified their positions in Nate McMillan's court, leaving the Spaniard out to dry. He has told press back home he might not be long for the NBA.
But wait! The Roy injury clears the path for Rudy's ascension, with the opponent -- a Suns team pushing the ball -- offering some stylistic aid for Fernandez, who likes to move. If Rudy is serious about forcing the Blazers to renounce his rights to pave the way for a European homecoming, a big series could make the pill impossible to swallow while boosting his value to unprecedented heights. Freedom is everything.
We snuck into baseball's underground lair to pilfer one of its most lovely tools of prognostication -- the log5 method, invented by Bill James himself.
With or without the services of a familiar Roy, the numbers favor Phoenix, but with a 60% probability of the series going at least six games. These numbers don't account for Phoenix's road woes nor Portland's bangin' building, but a lot of home wins do seem in order.
Yes, hipsters have infiltrated NBA fandom, "instant-expert fans overrating certain players."
Nicolas Batum is the reason so many NBA Hipsters obsess about the draft. The Frenchman vacillated between "unmanageably raw" and "Pippenesque" in the run-up to the 2009 draft, eventually turning out to be quite quasi-Rashardish. Portland in general, home to a plethora of fixies and bangs, fits the trope, with its stashing of foreign prospects (word up to Petteri Koponen and Victor Claver) and loyalty to its geography (Portland State star Ime Udoka in the past, Dan Dickau too).
But Batum isn't so much overrated as actually good. Ditto Goran Dragic and Jared Dudley. But Louis Amundson, that dude's a riot. The white Josh Smith with an even worse jump shot and mediocre dunking skills, Amundson does crazy things on defense for a few minutes a game. He wears his hair pulled back, like a punky roller-blading minion from a Kevin Smith movie. But if he took a cue from Nash and let his hair down, he'd actually have a shot at stealing Kyle Korver's Provo ad opportunities.
When you truly stand tall, only the Heavens can stop your growth.