On the particulars of the win streak:
With Roy ringing in as a two-time Western Conference Player of the Week, the Blazers have defeated seven teams with winning records. Eight of these 11 triumphs have occurred in Portland.
The Blazers defense has limited the opposition to 95 or fewer points five times, including a stingy 89 and 91 in victories over the point-happy Utah Jazz. The Blazers offense has been efficient enough to produce 50-percent field-goal accuracy in five games, which is nice because Portland managed to lose the rebound battle during each of the first seven games.
The Blazers have won the fourth-quarter battle eight times, suggesting that McMillan has been putting young players in positions to succeed.
On Travis Outlaw's improvement:
One of the most important upgrades has been provided by the 6-8 Outlaw, a fifth-year preps-to-pros alum who has gone from 9.6 points and 3.2 rebounds to 12.1 and 5.2. During the streak, Outlaw is averaging 15.5 points and has scored 20 or more points five times.
His improvement can be tracked to seasoning, which — in the hands of a premium talent — always leads to better things if that player is diligent. But Outlaw also has benefited from McMillan matching him almost exclusively against power forwards, a tactic that provides an even greater quickness advantage.
Partial credit for discovering Outlaw's comfort zone should be credited to Oden, who — had he not injured his knee — would have coaxed the Blazers into using a two-bigs alignment with Aldridge and keeping Travis at the three.
On the zone defense:
An interesting bit of polished strategy is the judiciously used Blazers zone defense, which seems to have been tweaked through McMillan's exposure to the defensive insights of co-Team USA assistant coach Jim Boeheim. (On occasion, you'll also see bits of the Suns' spread system of offense, courtesy of co-Team USA assistant coach Mike D'Antoni.)
But McMillan, who played for innovator zone-maker Jim Valvano at N.C. State, also receives input from top assistant Dean Demopoulos, an apprentice to match-up zone master John Chaney at Temple.
I'd like to get some of your opinions on what the most important facet of the win streak have been. The effectiveness of the zone defense? Brandon Roy? Travis Outlaw? Something else? Lets hear it.