Trends that Trouble Heading into Game 3

Trends that Trouble Heading into Game 3
April 24, 2014, 8:30 pm
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Terry Stotts sat down at the interview table inside the Moda Center looking relaxed if not totally refreshed.

There were smirks from the coach, but not full smiles.

"Just because you come home, that doesn't guarantee anything.”

One can only guess a similar message was conveyed to his players before they were released to enjoy the full day off before the series resumes in Portland on Friday.

“I'm not one to criticize shots very much.”

We know by now that Stotts attempts to keep a tight ship on defense while allowing things to “flow” on offense.

That flow led to two dominant, yet very different, types of games from LaMarcus Aldridge so far in this series.

In game one, Aldridge went to work at the rim. In game two, he raged from mid-range.

If the Blazers have any aspirations of finishing off the Rockets by Sunday night, Stotts will need to find ways to bring out the beast that owned the low post to start the series.

Aldridge hitting 13 of 19 shots from mid-range is great, but not sustainable. For proof, just look back to the 1st game when Aldridge made just 3 of 12 from that area of the floor.

Or look at his season-long body of work that saw him average 42% on his mid-range jumpers.

"I'm pleased with his shooting percentage. We need that to continue.”

That quote was in reference to James Harden’s shooting percentage which stands at 30% after two games. His style of play has the ability to aggravate fans on both sides. Maybe the biggest reason relates to how dependent he is on the referee’s whistle. No guard in the NBA gets to the free throw line more often. That stat alone wouldn’t be damning if observers weren’t also aware of the histrionics he employs to earn many of those trips.

Can Wesley Matthews and Nic Batum continue to defend without fouling?

Or, maybe better stated, can they defend Harden without Harden convincing the referees that he’s been fouled?

That could be the biggest obstacle standing in the way of a series sweep as we watch the weekend unfold.