Monday, March 23, 2009
Notes From Shootaround: Batum (Probably) Back
• No big surprise to hear today at shootaround that Nicolas Batum is listed as probable for tonight's game against the Sixers. Batum went through walkthroughs with the first unit and didn't seem any worse for wear. He also practiced a bit with assistant coach Monty Williams after the end of shootaround, which he almost always does, so I'd guess he goes tonight.
"He’s probable for tonight’s game," said Nate McMillan of Batum. "He went through some warmup yesterday, did a little running. Today, did a little bit more running. We’ll see him run tonight a little bit and see how he feels."
McMillan also noted that if Batum does play, he'll return to his starting position, with is standard procedure when a players is out a few games with injury.
• Had a chance to catch up with LaMarcus Aldridge for a few minutes after shootaround. He says he's not experiencing any more headaches after suffering a concussion in the Pacer victory, but he did lament his reaction time is still a little slow.
Nevertheless, LA was in good spirits, recounting what would seem like a rather scary incident with a smile on his face.
"I know I ran into him," joked Aldridge. "I don’t know what part or how. I know after that I kind of woke up and Joel was saying ‘Can you get up?’ and I was like ‘I can’t feel my legs.’ It was just a crazy moment for me. I don’t want to go through it again."
• Tonight's game will be Greg Oden's first at home since the Oklahoma City win back on Feb. 11. One member of local media's expectant mother division noted (aptly, I might add) that Oden looked "really good" since returning to the floor, prompting this response.
"I feel good," said Oden, "still trying to get back into the hang of things, especially on offense. I’m still working. We did a lot of stuff for me to try and get back in shape before I really got out there, so my wind has been actually really decent. Playing 12 minutes a game is alright, though."
But said pregnant reporter wanted to dig deeper.
"Do you feel different this time around," she asked. "You kind of look different."
"I'm just going out there and playing," deadpanned Oden. "I feel the same."
• Believe it or not, the Trail Blazers' 100-74 loss to the Sixers back on Jan. 14 was the worst loss of the season. Seems like a 26-point loss would happen once every few weeks not too long ago, so the fact that game is the worst beating of the year really says something about how far the team has come.
To keep from suffering the same fate this time around, the Blazers, according to coach McMillan, are going to need to do what they seem to do best: slow the pace.
"(The Sixers) have a lot of speed on the floor," said McMillan. "They’re aggressive defensively. What we have to do against that speed is slow down and get to our spots, make sure we have the spacing. They do a good job forcing turnovers so we have to make sure we take care of that ball because they do convert turnovers into points. So slow down against that speed, be patient, get your spacing, then attack it.
"Defensively, they’re playing pretty much three, four guards, small unit with a lot of speed. We got to keep them in front of us and we’ve got to win the hustle game. We can’t give them second and third opportunities."