Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Notes From A Shootaround: Welcome To Preseason
The complexion of a shootaround doesn't change much, be it pre or regular season. The team breaks off into units for walkthroughs, guys walk around with their hands down their sweatpants to stay warm, coaches discuss opponent tendencies, everyone huddles at center court, Coach McMillan says whatever is on his mind, the team says "Together!" in unison after which everyone scatters. Some guys get up a few shots. Others grab a quick bite in the players lounge before leaving for home, probably to go back to bed. And that's that. There's no reason to change habits for a preseason game.
Here are your notes:
• As has been reported nearly everywhere, Steve Blake, Brandon Roy, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and Joel Przybilla will start tonight against the Kings. However tomorrow might be a different story. The experimental nature of the exhibition season coupled with the playing a back-to-back has lead Coach McMillan to leave tomorrow's starters TBD.
"I’m going to rotate my starting lineup throughout preseason and look at some combinations and also rest some guys," said McMillan. So we will get Andre (Miller) in the starting lineup, not necessarily tomorrow night. We’ll see how tonight’s game goes and make a decision on tomorrow night basically tomorrow morning."
I wouldn't be at all surprised to see wholesale changes to the starting lineup tomorrow night in Sactown. I'm going to guess that Rudy Fernandez starts tomorrow. That's just a gut feeling.
• My favorite preseason question: Is winning important in the preseason? We all know it really isn't, but what is McMillan going to say? No, we don't care about losing? That'll be a great headline.
Mac-10 isn't so easily tricked.
"We want to play well," said McMillan. "I think you set the tone for going out and working hard and not going through the motions regardless of the result. At the end of exhibition it goes back to 0-0 but you play this game to win. That is our approach, to go out and try to win the game."
Cue the Herm Edwards clip.
• McMillan brought up a good point about tonight's game that I hadn't previously thought of: With Paul Westphal now calling the shots in Sacramento, the Blazers' coaching staff doesn't really know what to expect from the Kings as far as system goes. They know what individual players are capable of, but when it comes to the Kings as a whole, questions remain.
"We don’t have anything on Sacramento because they do have a new coach and a new system," said McMillan "There are tendencies. We will cover the players, cover some schemes. For us, what we’ve said, it’s not about Sacramento; it’s about us and what we need to do out on the floor as a team. We know how we’ve talked about playing and now it’s time for us to go out and execute that."
McMillan speaks truth on that one. A motivated Trail Blazers team should be able to handle the Kings with or without advanced scouting. Being at the Rose Garden doesn't hurt either.
• McMillan, for the first time since he took over as top dog in Portland, knows what he's got coming into preseason, or so I thought. Last year it was finding out about Oden, Fernandez, Batum and Bayless. The year before that it was Channing Frye, James Jones, Taurean Green and Josh McRoberts. There are new faces this season, but I figured that, since all of the main pieces remained intact, there wouldn't be much "getting to know you" time.
Turns out that assumption is only sort of correct.
"Every year is a different year," said McMillan. "I do feel more comfortable with our guys. We’re doing the same thing pretty much. We’re adding some new wrinkles, a few new wrinkles and players. There’s still a learning time with your team at the beginning because it’s a different year. Everything has changed. What you did last year is behind you and this year you’ve got to do it again but do it better. Expectations are different for yourself and from people around the league so people look at you different. So it’s going to be a different year."