Monday, April 20, 2009

Too much hospitality

In losing 108-81 to Houston in Game 1 on Saturday, Portland became just the second team in NBA history to lose by more than 25 points on its home floor in the opening game of a playoff series.

The other? Phoenix lost at home to Utah, 129-90, in Game 1 of a first-round Western Conference series in 1991. In the smallest of sample sizes, the 2009 Blazers can take the smallest amount of solace ... Phoenix bounced back to win Game 2 at home, 102-93, before losing a pair of games in Utah to drop the series, 3-1.

The Suns' reaction back then:

Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons: "It's a sad commentary I really have no explanation on why our team looked so poorly."

Jeff Hornacek: "We were just flat. It was just one of those nights. Things started out bad and continued that way."

Kevin Johnson: "Our concentration broke down. I think that we played excited, but we didn't hustle and there is no excuse for that."

Portland's reaction after Game 1:

Coach Nate McMillan: "It's a bad night. We lost."

Joel Przybilla: "I think it's disappointing that we didn't come out to play from the start. There's no reason why we shouldn't have come out with the same intensity."

A common thread is the lack of intensity. Veteran players often talk about how much more intense the playoffs are compared to the regular season, and how there is no way players facing their first postseason game can accurately anticipate such a jump.

The young Blazers certainly appeared overwhelmed in their opener. Can they bounce back in Game 2? And even if they do, are they ready to win the series? Or are they not yet ready, as analyst Jeff Van Gundy claims?

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