Sheed, from the best Blazers blog in Portland - Bust a Bucket - was nice enough to stop by Stepien Rules today for a Q and A in anticipation of tonight's Cavaliers - Blazers game. My questions, and his answers, are as follows:
Where do you project Portland to be, come playoff time as far as seeding goes? How many playoff rounds do you foresee them winning? Is a Western Conference title realistic, or are the Blazers a year or two away from those goals?
Now that is a great question. Coming into the season many Blazer fans, including myself, had very high hopes. I thought we’d win 56 games and get a 2 or a 3 seed. Since that time, situations have changed. Injuries, poor play, and the excellent play of other Western Conference teams has made a play-off run tough. At this point, making the playoffs is the goal. It will likely be a 6-8 seed and a tough first round match-up. I think they could possibly win a series in the right match-up, but getting to the Western Conference Finals seems impossible at this point. The Western Conference goes through Los Angeles, at least for the next few years. Until the Lakers slow down, no one else is coming out of the West. You’ve seen how they’re playing this year, they are stacked and motivated.
How good is Brandon Roy? Specifically, if you could pick any NBA player to lead your franchise, how many guys would you pick before you took Roy?
There aren’t too many guys in the NBA who are young, talented and poised like Brandon. He’s definitely in my top 5-10 if I were picking. His all around game and ability to close games is what really makes him stand out. Of course you have Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant, but after that, there are a lot of great players who bring different skills. I am happy with Brandon in Portland, and our GM will get the right personnel pieces for Roy to succeed.
With Oden going down again, reportedly for the duration of this season, what's the feeling in Portland about his career prospects long-term?
This is the question of the year for Blazer fans. After this latest injury, I know even the believers had to be worried about the future of Greg Oden. He has been injured so much in his short collegiate and NBA career, it’s natural to be concerned about the future. But, there are positive things to gain from this situation. First of all, He’ll be 22 in January. He is still very young, and there is really no reason to think he won’t be coming back next season ready to contribute. Greg is also a very hard worker. He trained his backside off this summer, and we know he’ll do whatever it takes to get back to where he was this year. I don’t doubt Greg Oden, we just have to be patient and hope he turns out like Zydrunas Ilgauskus, injured early on, but very productive in his NBA career.
Do you wish the Blazers had picked Kevin Durant?
Obviously Durant is an exceptional talent designed for the NBA and it’s rules geared towards offense. I love Durant, but I don’t necessarily think we’re monumentally better with him here. I’ve tried to figure out how he fits into this team but it would be totally different. There are only so many shots to go around and I don’t see how his 20-25 shots per game fit in. Portland took Greg with the number one pick because he was a once in a lifetime talent at the center position. He showed crazy upside and ridiculous athleticism. I’m going to be a Greg Oden fan forever. I remember how I felt when we got the first pick, I know who I wanted, and I’m willing to be patient now. Asking Portland fans if they wish they had taken Durant is like asking me if I wish I had moved to New York after college or taken a different job 4 years ago. We are where we are today for a reason, who knows where we’d be if Durant was here. Perhaps things would be totally different, but I’m not going to worry about it.
What is something about this Blazers team that the Cavaliers need to watch out for tonight? More directly, how do they beat Cleveland tonight?
The Cavs need to watch out for Portland getting hot from deep. Honestly, our 3-point shooters haven’t exactly been shooting well this year. Considering Cleveland has lost their last two, and will be looking to break the streak, only a very good shooting Blazer team can win this game. A lot of these things are cliché, but if Portland wants to win in Cleveland, they must limit turnovers. Careless ball handling will kill them. Also, keeping our bigs out of foul trouble will be key. With Oden out, and not much depth in the front court, foul trouble will likely leave the Blazers hoping for a rally in the fourth quarter.