Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Start It Up

Since we're a little more than two hours away from the start of Game 2, it's probably a good time to talk about starts and how important they are, especially in playoff games. After a demoralizing Game 1 in which the Trail Blazers were all but buried in the first quarter, getting off on the right foot in Game 2 is of the utmost importance.

"I think it's very important," said Nate McMillan of the Trail Blazers getting off to a better start in Game 2. "I think it's always important to get off to a good start and establish yourself, establish that you can run an offense, establish that you can get stops defensively, that you're not having breakdowns as a group. So it's very important every night to do that. And certainly tonight because we didn't do that last game."

Amen to that. By time the first quarter came to a merciful end in Game 1, the Rockets were shooting 75 percent from the field, Yao already had 16 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had missed all but one of his six shots and Brandon Roy had already taken over point guard duties. Not a recipe for success.

As important as a good start will be tonight, it's not going to be the end all, be all of the game either. The Rockets are a smart, veteran team capable of weathering a few bad breaks early.

"It's very important that we get off to a good start, but that's not going to be the whole game," said Brandon Roy. "Houston's not going to go away. It's important to get off to a good start and to play a complete basketball game. We can't think we're going to put this team away early. We can't think, like we can come out with a lot of energy and everything is going to be great. We've got to understand that we're in for a fight for 48 minutes. So it's important to start off well because I think that will set the tone for the rest of the game."

And that's really point. Getting off to a good start isn't so much about winning the first quarter as it's about the Trail Blazers feeling good about themselves for the first time in the last four quarters. If Portland can come out strong, get a little confidence and a sense that they can play with the Rockets in a big time game, then they can make this a series. If they suffer through a first quarter similar to what we saw on Saturday then ... I don't even want to think about what that means.

No comments: