Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tonight marks the single most confusing night in the NBA, where the playoff
clusterfuck traffic jam might get sorted out. Maybe.
Since I don't want to confuse you, I hired a lawyer to write this part:
Portland, San Antonio, and Houston are tied with identical records, yet somehow not equal. Portland has the tiebreaker with San Antonio, but not Houston. If the Blazers finish with a superior record than both the Spurs and Rockets—oh, and the Nuggets win the Northwest Division, which they will—then Portland secures the 3rd seed. That is home court in the first round. But if Portland ties either aforementioned team that is not Denver, the best they can hope to finish is in 4th place. Still homecourt in the first round. If the Spurs win their division, they'll finish 3rd despite having lost the season series against the Blazers (the first tiebreaker goes to the division winner is the first tiebreaker, the second to head-to-head record). If Houston loses the division but tie Portland, the Rockets will still be the 4th seed because they won the season series, which means Portland loses home court advantage. And if all these team lose tonight, then—somehow—the Los Angeles Clippers are automatically awarded the NBA championship and the earth implodes.
All of that is true, except maybe the last sentence. Let the confusion and speculation begin...
Considering that tonight's game is against one of the league's least exciting teams—the Thunder are to the 2009 season what the Blazers were to the '06 season: lots of potential, little reward—there still is an air of excitement here at the Rose Garden. Just have a look at this playoff breakdown the team provided us media folk with:
Yes, that is the (empty) seat of Casey Jarman from the WW next to a Grateful Dead sticker. And no, that is not a coincidence.
The Thunder are lead by Kevin Durant, the other player involved in the Blazers/Oden draft day ménage à trois. Portland passed on Durant, and the rest is history. Injury-riddled and foul-heavy history. After Durant, the Thunder talent wheel spins to Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook, and then it just stops spinning altogether. Chucky Atkins, Malki Rose, this creature from the ugly lagoon... the talent drops off quite rapidly for this team which should still be called the Seattle SuperSonics.
Nicolas Batum is not starting due to "flu-like" symptoms.
9:43 - It took three shots, but LaMarcus Aldridge finally gets a shot to fall. Like clockwork, Portland starts every game by just feeding Aldridge until he pads their lead. Their lead is now lightly padded. 6-2 Portland.
8:27 - Jeff Green with a breakaway dunk. Batum would have blocked that. Travis Outlaw with a 20-foot jumper. Batum would have missed that. 8-4 Blazers.
6:22 - Steve Blake with one helluva pass—about 50-60 feet—to a streaking (yet still clothed) Brandon Roy. 15-7 Blazers.
4:36 - If Kevin Durant was on my team, he couldn't not touch the ball every possession. Yet, for some odd reason, the Thunder have yet to pass the ball to their best player a single time. 18-9 Blazers.
3:03 - Brandon Roy seems to have jammed a finger, evidence of this comes in his three-point airball. Thankfully Greg Oden's digits are just fine. He receives an alley-oop pass from Steve Blake, and not wanting to be rude, he dunks it over a pair of Thunder. This game is nowhere near as close as the score: 24-11 Blazers.
0:44- Rudy with a three. Oden with a block. Batum with a cold. Bayless on a bench. Every rookie contributes in their own special way. 29-15 Blazers.
10:54 - Rudy on the giving end of the alley-oop, Oden on the receiving end. Good lord, this is a blowout. 35-15 Blazers.
8:49 - Who needs starters? Rudy avoids two Thunder defenders, before finally getting hacked while shooting a three. Meanwhile his partner en espanol, Sergio Rodriguez, knocks back a layup after slicing through the paint. 42-21 Portland.
7:56 - Shaun Livingston is in the game. AHHHHHHHHH, I CAN'T WATCH THIS AGAIN! 44-25 Portland.
7:00 - Oden dunks. Again. The lead is now up to three touch touchdowns. 46-25 Portland.
3:41 - Want to know why the score is what it is? Kevin Durant finally scores his first two points. Can Michael Ruffin come in the game now? 55-29 Blazers.
0:40 - For the sake of sparing some dignity for the poor Thunder, Portland should probably sit their starters for the next two quarters. This is a massacre. 62-31 Portland.
10:21 - Playoff update: So nothing has changed. All the teams that Portland did not want to win—Denver and Houston—have won their games, and San Antonio is playing about 30 minutes behind this game. Even sadder than that news is how the Portland starters are back in the game. Instead of resting for Wednesday's game against Denver—or, I don't know, THE PLAYOFFS—Brandon Roy just got knocked to the floor by Nenad Krstic while ahead by 33 points. 66-33 Blazers.
6:40 - The Thunder have subbed in a few bench players, while Portland has not. Does Nate McMillan know that the 25-point basket only existed in the MTV Rock and Jock game? It's not real. The Thunder are not coming back. Give us a big 'ol serving of Bayless with a side of Ruffin. 77-44 Portland.
3:59 - Nick Collison swats Przybilla. Is there a new Vanilla Gorilla in town? I refuse to believe that just happened. 79-49 Blazers.
0:03 - Sergio drops a no-look pass to Outlaw for a rubbing-your-face-in-it dunk. Sorry Oklahoma City. 85-55 Blazers.
11:14 - Hello Jerryd Bayless. Rudy is excited and celebrates with a flying dunk courtesy of a Bayless pass. 89-59 Portland.
9:05 - BAYLESS, FOR THE WIN! There will not be a better slam dunk all season than that. Jerryd Bayless puts down the single greatest one-hand dunk I have seen this side of Clyde Drexler. Wow. I kind of wish that was already on YouTube so I could post it here. 93-61 Blazers.
7:27 - When up close to 40 points, what's the etiquette on shooting three pointers? Rudy cares not for your etiquette, he just hits another from north of the arch. 98-63 Blazers. Oden out—16 points, 9 boards, and ZERO FOULS!!!—and Ruffin in.
3:09 - Pardon the sporadic blogging, but it's hard to get excited for Michael Ruffin taking an unguarded layup. Sorry, StudRuffin. 108-73 Blazers.
0:16 - Not cool, dude. Channing for three (why?) and that will do it. In a nail-biter—remember, Oklahoma scored the first two points—Portland escapes by the final score of 113-83. Wednesday night against Denver, with the playoff seeding on the line... see you then.
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