At the beginning of the season 3 Shades of Blue joined the infant Bloquin network of bloggers and have had a great relationship all year. One of the bloggers that joined 3 Shades of Blue at Bloquin was Bust a Bucket, a team blog for the Portland Trailblazers. As has been our tradition we try and gain some insight into Grizzlies opponents by asking questions of their team’s best bloggers. Here are the questions we posed to Sheed at Bust a Bucket andhis answers.
3SOB: With the playoffs approaching what is the attitude in Portland right now? Are they scouting teams they prefer to play in the first round or are they just focusing on getting as many wins as possible?
Fans and players are really hoping to get the 4 seed right now. With Portland playing so poorly on the road against playoff teams, home court advantage in the first round would be huge. Its impossible for us to scout who well play because it could be any of the other 7 Western Conference playoff teams.
So to answer your question, we are trying to get as many wins as possible. Games in San Antonio, at home against the Lakers and at home against Denver will be tough. But if we can win at least 4 out of the last 6 we might get the 5th seed and maybe the 4th seed ifSan Antoniofalters (and it was announced yesterday that Manu Ginobili is out for the season and the playoffs). Its still a little too early to think about the match-up, but clinching a playoff berth for the first time in 6 years is pretty damn fun to think about right now.
3SOB:Often a player returning to the lineup late in the season can throw a team out of sync. How has Odens return affected the chemistry of the Blazers?
BAB: With Oden returning (again) it hasnt been an issue for chemistry. Prior to his return Joel Przybilla was playing very well but also playing too many minutes. Odens return helps Joel get some rest and creates a great center tandem for the Blazers. It also helped to let Greg come off the bench. Thrusting him into the starting role this season is not a good idea, he really hasnt earned it yet. He brings a nice defensive presence off the bench and theres no denying his effect on games.
Regarding chemistry, the person who really could have an adverse effect is Martell Webster. Hes been out almost the entire season and is scheduled to return within days. The team wants to get him some run in a few regular season games before the playoffs. This could mess up chemistry considering the success Nicolas Batum has had as our starting small forward. I have no idea how we work Martell into the mix. Hes been a great guy on the bench, hes a tremendous teammate. But adding another guy to the rotation, someone who was the starter previously, is risky business.
3SOB:Brandon Roy is having another tremendous season but is not being given much attention as an MVP candidate. Why do you think that is?
BAB: Brandon Roy has been beyond incredible in 3 years for the Blazers. Hes quite obviously our MVP but is he an MVP of the entire league? I dont think so. With guys like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant still playing at a high level, theres no way I can see people choosing Brandon Roy. I believe he is in the top 10, maybe even pushing top 5 at times. If you look at him with the real definition in mind, Brandon is truly our most valuable player in almost every aspect of his game on the court and even off the court.
3SOB:How have the rookies (Jerryd Bayless, Rudy Fernandez, Nicolas Batum) played this season. Will they be a part of the playoff rotations or will they see their minutes cut in favor of the more experienced players?
BAB: Our rookies have been tremendous this year. Although Jerryd Bayless has lost the majority of his minutes, he still showed us all what his future holds.Rudy will continue to come off the bench and be a nice change of pace and a three point shooter.Greg(who is still a rookie in our eyes) serves as a compliment to Joel Przybilla and get as many minutes as he can before getting into foul trouble.
The Nicolas Batum question ties back to what I said about Martell Webster. Theoretically Batum would be the one missing time if Martell plays any significant minutes at all. I believe we need to stick with what got us here and leave Nic in the starting line-up. Hes shown that he can defend, shoot, rebound and be active. He does whatever he needs to do and seems like a young Tayshaun Prince with a better looking jumper(aesthetically!).
The rookies are a big part of this teams success and should continue to do so in the playoffs.
3 Shades of Blue also answered some questions Bust a Bucket sent us so be sure to check out their site for our answers.