Thursday, April 2, 2009
Roy: 'Let's be more aggressive toward them'
There are just eight games to go in the regular season, and yet, the Trail Blazers are still learning. They’re learning what it’s like to play meaningful games in April. They’re learning how to play through aches and pains and pulls and strains.
But maybe the most important thing they’re learning that what constituted a foul in November and December might not be the same thing that constitutes a foul in March and April. It’s what coaches and players are talking about when they refer to “playoff basketball.” And it’s rough.
“It’s an adjustment for guys who haven’t been through it before,” said Nate McMillan, who played in 98 playoff games as a member of the Seattle SuperSonics. “All of the sudden you go from playing and having the freedom of moving to not being able to move without someone covering you pretty much every possession. It’s a mental change.”
McMillan has tried to prepare his team for that change all season, but even he admits that there’s only so much you can teach. Sooner or later, the Trail Blazers are going to have to learn for themselves that increased physicality leading up to the playoffs is the norm. Teams, as McMillan has noted recently, are playing every possession now. They’re playing with a greater sense of urgency and with the understanding that referees would rather let the players n the floor decided games.
“You notice (more physical play) from the really good teams, the teams that are in the playoff races like Philadelphia,” said Brandon Roy. “There’s a lot of grabbing. I think it’s good that we’re going through it now because when we played Milwaukee, it was a physical game. A lot of grabbing.
“All the coaches that have been there know what you have to do. I’m excited that we’re going through it now because I’m starting to learn what it takes. Even now when I penetrate, I’m not looking for as many fouls. It’s just trying to be aggressive because that’s what they’re allowing. Hopefully we can continue to be more physical ourselves and not allow teams to try and take us out of our game. Lets be more aggressive toward them.”
But Roy is wise beyond his years. What about the rest of the team? Have they been as quick to catch on as the two-time all-star. According to Roy, you bet.
“I think the whole team has figured it out,” said Roy. “It’s the time of the year where everybody is playing for something. We’re playing for playoff position. Every team in the West, from nine to one, is playoff for position. Even the Lakers are playing for homecourt throughout, so everybody is going for it. I think that’s good because we’re getting a lot of experience.”