The Trail Blazers, for the first time in nearly two weeks, held practice at the their facility in Tualatin before flying out to Phoenix for Wednesday night’s game against the Suns (tipoff at 6 PM on CSNNW and 620 AM).
Some notes …
· Not a media availability goes by recently in which Wesley Matthews isn’t asked about his shooting. That just comes with the territory when you’re second in the league in three-pointers made (45) and adjusted field goal percentage (69 percent), sixth in points per shot (1.53) and seventh in three-point percentage (51 percent). Trying to come up with different ways of saying “I don’t know why I’m shooting so well” is a problem any player in the league would be happy to have.
Though it won’t last forever. While it’s possible that Matthews, who has always been an above-average three-point shooter, morphed into one of the premier shooters in the league over the course of the offseason, it’s more likely that he’s simply riding a hot streak that will eventually come to an end.
But he’s okay with that. There’s no challenge on the court that Matthews isn’t up for, but even he conceded shooting ten percentage points better than his career average from three on a nightly basis might be unlikely, even if he thinks, as he does, that every shot he takes us going in.
“I know I’m not going to shoot 54, 53 percent from the three or whatever it is every night,” said Matthews. “I’m almost glad that I didn’t do (against New York). I didn’t do it against Milwaukee, we won. I didn’t do it (against New York), we won.”
If the Trail Blazers were to rely on Matthews shooting 50 percent or better from three in order to win games, they wouldn’t be 13-2. It certainly helps when he does, but there has always been a teammate ready to pick up the slack when Matthews has had an “off” night shooting.
And who knows, maybe Matthews keeps his percentage up all season. While he did say he doesn’t expect to shoot over 50 percent all season, he also points out that his predictions aren’t always correct.
Said Matthews: “Hey, I’ve been wrong before.”
· Wednesday night’s game will be the third time in less than a month that between the two teams. The Trail Blazers won the most recent contest 90-89, escaping with a victory only after three last-second tip ins rimmed out at the Moda Center. And of course there was the 104-91 drubbing in Phoenix on Opening Night for one of Portland’s two losses this season.
So while Terry Stotts refused to put too much emphasis on Wednesday night’s game, it seems seems reasonable to think the contest will be a decent gauge of how much the Trail Blazers have improved since that first game of the season.
“Certainly they handled us pretty easily that game, that was a high-scoring game,” said Stotts of the first game against Phoenix. “We snuck one out here at home in a low scoring game. They’ve played well against us, there’s no two ways about that. We have to play hard, play well, stick to our gameplan, all those things that have been important this season.”
Stotts said that, after being the top rated defensive team throughout the preseason, the Opening Night thrashing at the hands of a young, fast Suns team “kind of opened our eyers that it’s not easy.” Since then, Stotts says tmhis team’s transition defense (Phoenix scored 31 fast break points in the opener) and pick and roll coverage has been improved, though his players would take that improvement even a step further.
“We’re a better team than we were the the first two times, definitely a better team than the first time we played them,” said Wesley Matthews. “And then the win that we did get — that was tough — at our place, we’re a better team than we were then. We’re just going to continue to try and get better, improve, do the things that made us successful. But at the same time we’re going to play our game and our game has been pretty good for us so far.”
· Finally, news broke yesterday that eccentric rapper Kanye West was cutting ties with Nike in order to sign a more lucrative deal with Adidas. West had collaborated with Nike on the two iterations of the Air Yeezy, a sneaker that was produced in very limited quantities, and thus, became highly sought-after among sneaker collectors.
Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson, a sneaker Connoisseur, is a fan of the Air Yeezy and owns the Yeezy 1 and the two colorways of the Yeezy 2. He said he doesn’t mind the move, though as a Nike-endorsed athlete, the relationship between West and Adidas does pose a problem.
“As long it still looks good, I’m cool,” said Robinson. “I mean, I wouldn’t be able to wear them no more, which sucks, so I wish he’d drop the red ones with Nike.”
The “red ones” Robinson is referring to are the “Red October” colorway of the Air Yeezy 2, which have not hit the market despite rumors they would were set for an October release. But with West leaving Nike for their main competitor, it’s becoming more and more likely that the the all-red version will never released, which is an upsetting prospect for Robinson.
“It’s not happening no more?” questioned Robinson when told the release was in jeopardy. “My heart hurt them. But there’s already some out there because I seen people with them, unless they were knockoffs. If he could just do us that last favor, just drop ’em.”
Robinson has already put in his bid for the “Red Octobers” should they ever come out, and said that maybe it was time to call in some assistance in order to get the shoes on the market.
“We need to get Lebron to ask him to drop ’em,” said Robinson, “then maybe they would do it.”