We might be seeing a lot of this from Marcus Camby tonight.
Blazers (38-28) vs Warriors (17-46)
Tip Off: 7:30pm PST
TV: TNT | Radio: KNBR 680
In the 133-team Bay Area "weekend warrior" (no pun intended) league that I run, often times I'm asked by my captains if they can switch a game this weekend to that weekend because their team happens to be at a wedding, snowboarding in Tahoe, or whatever. Sometimes I can do it, sometimes I can't. Boy, I wish the NBA had that for tonight's game.
The Blazers just got done swatting away the Kings up in Portland the other night, playing poorly, but surviving the attacks of Tyreke Evans (meanwhile, Prince 'Reke just racked up a triple-double last night and basically looked like Baby LeBron -- am I the first to say this?! If so, "you heard it here first", haha!).
So Brandon Roy and company embark on a little two-day excursion to the Yay here, but it's the Dubs tonight and Sacramento tomorrow night. In other words, the Kings and Tyreke the Freak get to seek out revenge after the Blazers run in a track meet with Steph, Monta, and the D-Leaguers. Too bad it wasn't the other way around.
Yesterday evening while I was enjoying a commute, I heard on KCBS that they had some "good news" to announce for the Warriors. What? Good news? Did Larry Ellison finally buy the franchise from Chris Cohan?! For once, I was anxiously waiting a Warriors report.
The good news turned out to be this: "Andris Beidrins had successful surgery. He'll be out 4-6 weeks."
I'll just leave it at that.
Meanwhile, in all likelihood, Ronny Turiaf will be out with his sore left knee. Who does that leave down low for us again?
The folks over at BlazersEdge seem to be a little worried about this one...
The Blazers haven't won in Oakland since the heyday of the Fresh Prince. Not Will Smith...Machiavelli. Corey Maggette tends to make mincemeat out of LaMarcus Aldridge on both ends of the court. Neither the guards nor the centers seem comfortable keeping up the pace. The Warriors turn it, burn it, and blow the Blazers away. The energy isn't so high in Portland for some reason so the Blazers return the favor there, but Oracle Arena is a house of horrors for Portland.
...but I beg to differ. Here are our crunch-time matchups:
pg Stephen Curry vs Andre Miller: Miller was taking it strong to the hole, almost at will, against the Kings the other night. I forget if it was Beno Udrih or 'Reke who was covering him, but it doesn't matter. I love Steph, but he's gonna have his hands full with a bigger, stronger, Miller who has been playing lately with somewhat reckless abandon.
sg Monta Ellis vs Brandon Roy: This should be an interesting matchup. But the game is played in the dynamic of 5-on-5. Plus, as you'll see below, Monta and Steph have Camby to contend with (wow, what a neato roster move by Kevin Pritchard, I gotta say), even if they get by the perimeter defenders.
sf Anthony Morrow vs Nicolas Batum: I'm thinking Ammo gets the start because of his great performance the other night against the Hornets. He earned it. But I just don't know if the shooter can keep it up. It's hard for gunners to have back-to-backs like that. Plus, Batum is long. I'm a bit concerned by this matchup.
pf Corey Maggette vs LaMarcus Aldridge: Alright, let's give BlazersEdge the benefit of the doubt. Let's say Maggette outplays LMA (what a fine young talent, btw). Maggette will have to outplay him by so much, that it pulls Roy, Miller, and Camby away from their duties. We'll see. This is the only way the Warriors win tonight.
c Anthony Tolliver or Chris Hunter vs Marcus Camby: Let Camby shoot. If he beats us, so be it. But he won't need to shoot. They've got plenty of weapons off the bench. Camby's there to swat shots from little guards driving past his perimeter guys. With Monta back, Tolliver and Hunter's roles as bottom-feeders are cemented, so neither of them will pose a threat to Camby. My crystal ball shows carnage at the rim for the young'uns named Curry and Ellis.
BENCH: Reggie Williams and CJ Watson can spell Ammo and the perimeter guys for a bit, but with the frontline rotation of Maggette, Tolliver, Hunter, and Devean George, this could get ugly. On the perimeter, the Blazers have gunner Martell Webster, fancy man Rudy Fernandez, and Jerryd Bayless the relentless penetrator. In the frontcourt, most interestingly, they have Juwan Howard, who has been playing pretty decent of late. How about it, Mr. Energizer Bunny! This guy outlasted Jalen Rose and Chris Webber. Who'da thunk?! Finally in case of emergency they have Dante Cunningham, Jeff Pendergraph, and 3rd string pg Travis Diener.
Speaking of Juwan and the Fab Five (here I go on a patented tangent), aren't the Kentucky Wildcats the most incredible collection of freshman since?! I'm sorry. I think John Wall plus DeMarcus Cousins (most mathematically probable future Warrior?) plus Eric Bledsoe is greater than Rose, Webber, Howard. That's shocking for me to say. After all, the Fab Five won me my first NCAA bracket pool. And screw the NCAA and its hypocrisy, the Michigan Wolverines were THE champions. You ain't gonna change history in MY brain. Good times.
Back to tonight, this one could get out of hand early. If the Blazers have an overall gameplan, it's to pound it down low on offense and contain Steph/Monta, showing help D where necessary and keeping Camby near the basket at all times. They know the back-to-back against the seething Kings is right around the corner. They know they need every win possible, being at the fringe of playoff contention. It would shock me if the Blazers did not come out focused for this one.
If a blowout ensues, we might see Cunningham, Pendergraph, and Diener, of whom only Cunningham saw action against the Kings, with 3 minutes played. That also brings us to one Patty Mills, local St. Mary's product. Seems he is coping okay with the limited playing time, according to an interview by Cam Inman for the SJ Mercury.
Speaking of which, I'd like to congratulate the following local hoop products (yes, I'm shamelessly throwing in the obvious random mention, but to be honest I wouldn't have mentioned this if I hadn't noticed so many Bay Area-extended reps -- be proud, people, these are good kids)...
- Ivy League co-MVP: Jeremy Lin, Harvard (hometown: Palo Alto)
- Big West Player of the Year: Orlando Johnson, UC Santa Barbara (hometown: Seaside)
- WAC Co-Player of the Year: Adrian Oliver, San Jose State (hometown: Modesto)
- WCC Player of the Year: Omar Samhan, St. Mary's (hometown: San Ramon)
- Pac-10 MVP: Jerome Randle, Cal (adopted hometown now that his brother has moved here: Berkeley...yeah, I know he's originally from SoCal, though)