Headed into this season, there was a general vision for what the Blazers would become: they’d be a solid team in the West who would make waves in the playoffs. Part of the motivation behind that prediction is that Portland has explosive pieces who could be dangerous if they all get hot at the same time. But it’s also partly because they’re a likable group of guys who people across the country want to see succeed for the first time.
The second part of that description is unique to the Blazers and the Blazers only this year. There really isn’t a team in the East who fits that bill. In some ways, the Heat are comparable because everyone roots for Dwyane Wade (he is the most likable superstar in the League today), but they’ve won a ring within the last five years. So is there an equivalent to the Blazers in the East?
Even if the Bulls don’t have the personalities that Portland does (that’s a nice way of putting it), their brand of basketball makes them the most dangerous low-seed in the East. Like Portland, they’ve got an explosive, occasionally unguardable point guard (Brandon Roy, Derrick Rose). They have a scorer who can rattle off runs single-handedly no matter what the defense is doing (Travis Outlaw, John Salmons). They’ve got a big man who can consistently knock down mid-range jumpers (LaMarcus Aldridge, Brad Miller). And they have an X-factor who can take them to another level when he’s on (Greg Oden, Tyrus Thomas).
So if you’re the two-seeded Celtics, is there any part of you that wants to get out of that spot so that you don’t have to face the Bulls in the first round? In their last meeting, the KG-less Celts fell 127-121
in Chicago. John Salmons out-dueled Paul Pierce, 38-37, Derrick Rose had 8 assists and 1 TO, Brad Miller came off the bench to shoot 7-12 for 21 points, and Tyrus Thomas went for 18 points and 5 boards. It was the confluence of all the aforementioned factors in a single game. Granted, Boston didn’t have their defensive centerpiece. But if Chicago can play up to their potential, can they be the Blazers of the East?