Breakouts galore: Detailed look at Blazers-Suns

Today’s Game
Blazers vs. Suns, 7:30 p.m. at US Airways Center
TV: TNT (54), KGW (8)
Radio: 95.5 FM
Probable Starters
Blazers (50-32)
Position/player Ht. Pts.
G Andre Miller 6-2 14.0
G Rudy Fernandez 6-6 8.1
F Nicolas Batum 6-8 10.1
F LaMarcus Aldridge 6-11 17.9
C Marcus Camby 6-11 7.0
Suns (54-28)
G Steve Nash 6-3 16.5
G Jason Richardson 6-6 15.7
F Grant Hill 6-8 11.3
F Amare Stoudemire 6-10 23.1
C Jarron Collins 6-11 1.0

Martell Webster

He began the season as a starter.

He fell into a late-season swoon that became the worst slump of his career.

And after picking himself up to score at least 16 points in two out of the last three games of the regular season, the Trail Blazers small forward could be the bridge that allows Portland to cross over into the second round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

“I prepared myself all season,” Webster said. “This is what it’s all about.”

The 6-foot-7, 235-pound Webster is in his fifth season with the Blazers.

At times, Webster’s 2009-10 campaign has seen the Seattle native playing the best ball of his career. Webster scored at least 20 points 10 times, and twice scored 28 to establish a new career high. Factor in that he sank at least two 3-pointers 35 times — establishing a career high with seven made 3s Feb. 16 during a home victory over the Los Angeles Clippers — and Webster has the potential to swing the series Portland’s way.

But offense is not Webster’s only weapon. The sixth overall pick of the 2005 NBA Draft ranks only behind Nicolas Batum and Marcus Camby as a top defender for the Blazers, and the sight of Webster fiercely guarding an opponent’s premier scorer has been a common one this season.

“It’s (a role) I’m willing to accept,” said Webster, who joined Andre Miller as the only Blazer to play in all 82 regular-season games.

With Portland All-Star guard Brandon Roy out for the series due to a knee injury and Rudy Fernandez filling in, Webster has the potential to be the Blazers’ best player off the bench.

And after an up-and-down season that has seen Webster balance pride and prowess with frustration, he could solidify his future in Portland with a prime-time performance.

“That’s what you live for,” Webster said. “That’s what your dream is, is to play in the big show.”

Who’s better?

Point guard
Blazers’ Andre Miller vs. Suns’ Steve Nash

This will be the best matchup of the series, and could go either way.

Blazers coach Nate McMillan said Nash deserves most-valuable-player consideration. McMillan’s right. Nash carried the Suns all season, leading Phoenix to the best record in the league after the All-Star break.

But Miller has been just as integral to Portland’s late-season success. And he should be ability to bully Nash, using a 22-pound weight advantage to post up on Phoenix’s lightweight firestarter.

But Miller must at least hold his own in transition. Nash excels in the fast break, and he could easily spend the series burning Portland’s 11-year veteran with quick moves and a quicker release.

Advantage: Suns

Shooting guard
Blazers’ Rudy Fernandez vs. Suns’ Jason Richardson

Fernandez is a last-minute fill in for injured All-Star Brandon Roy, who is out with a torn right meniscus.

Richardson’s game has fallen off in recent years, but he is still deadly from the perimeter and is one of the premier No. 3 scoring options in the league.

For Portland to have a chance, Fernandez must come up big. The second-year guard has to sink what he takes behind the 3-point line. But he also must work his way into Portland’s half-court offense, and hold his own on defense.

Advantage: Suns

Small forward
Blazers’ Nicolas Batum vs. Suns’ Grant Hill

This matchup is a basketball purist’s dream.

Batum has quickly become one of the top defenders in the game, garnering comparisons to defensive legend Bruce Bowen.

Hill is still going strong after 15 years. He started 81 games,
averaging 11.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 30 minutes.

Hill is the definition of fundamental basketball at the small forward position; Batum is a bright vision of what the role has become.

If Batum can continue his offensive ascension, it will be a major postseason coup for Portland.

Advantage: Blazers

Power forward
Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Suns’ Amare Stoudemire

Top of the top young power forwards in the game could very well define the series — and decide the victor.

Aldridge has become Portland’s No. 1 offensive option with the loss of Roy. He has played the best ball of his career during the second half of the season, leading the Blazers with a team-high 19.7 average points in the last 44 games.

Stoudemire punished Portland in three regular-season matchups, averaging 22.3 points.

Aldridge must control the low block. Doing so will slow down the tempo and give Portland the inside offensive presence it will require to stay alive in the series.

Meanwhile, the Blazers simply must control Stoudemire. Twenty-five point games are fine. But if the future big-time free agent drops in a 40-point outing more than once, Portland’s season will likely come to an end.

Advantage: Suns

Blazers’ Marcus Camby vs. Suns’ Jarron Collins

Camby is Portland’s biggest advantage.

Since acquiring the veteran center, the Blazers have gone 19-8 and become one of the most dangerous teams in the Western Conference.

Camby’s defense is a series-changer — he ranked second in the NBA in rebounds and fifth in blocks. But the lanky big man has also soared on offense as of late, pouring in a season-high 30 points during an April 12 victory over Oklahoma City.

Camby’s only weak spot is a bum ankle — he sprained his left one Friday during practice.

Meanwhile, Collins is Phoenix’s biggest weak spot. The fill in for an injured Robin Lopez is averaging just 1.0 points and 1.8 rebounds.

Advantage: Blazers

Blazers’ Martell Webster, Jerryd Bayless, Juwan Howard vs. Suns’ Channing Frye, Leandro Barbosa, Jared Dudley, Goran Dragic
Advantage: Suns

Blazers’ Nate McMillan vs. Suns’ Alvin Gentry
Advantage: Blazers

Tempo time

Phoenix runs. Portland does not.

Phoenix guns. Portland does not.

Phoenix seemingly shoots and scores at will. Portland does — sometimes.

Tempo will be everything for the Blazers in this series. Portland ranks last in the NBA in pace of play; Phoenix ranks fourth. And while the Suns lead the NBA in average points, field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage, the Blazers are tied for third in points allowed.

Look for Portland to play inside-out throughout the series. The Blazers will rely on LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Miller and Marcus Camby for the bulk of their offense, doing so in an attempt to control the paint and milk the shot clock.

If Portland spends large portions of games shooting free throws and sending up field goals from the block, the Blazers have a chance.

However, if Portland is lulled into quick-release jump shots that are traded for fast-break points by the Suns, it could be a fast — and disappointing — first-round series for a Blazers team playing without All-Star guard Brandon Roy.

Strange days

When the 2009-10 season began, Phoenix center Jarron Collins was a Blazer.

Competing throughout training camp with Patty Mills and Ime Udoka for the right to earn Portland’s 15th and final roster spot, Collins made it to Oct. 22 — just five days before the regular season — before he and Udoka were waived and Mills was retained.

Phoenix eventually signed Collins, though. And now the 6-foot-11, 249-pound center out of Stanford will likely be asked to match up against Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge in the most one-sided battle of starters in the series.

While Aldridge is averaging 17.9 points and 7.1 rebounds, Collins is pulling down just 1.0 points and 1.8 rebounds while filling in for an injured Brook Lopez.

By the numbers
Out of 30 NBA teams
Blazers Suns
Average points (rank): 98.1 (21) 110.2 (1)
Points allowed: 94.8 (tie-3) 105.3 (26)
Field-goal percentage: 46.4 (18) 49.2 (1)
Free-throw percentage: 74.5 (t-3) 77.0 (11)
Rebounds: 40.2 (t-26) 43.0 (t-6)
Assists: 20.4 (21) 23.3 (4)
Turnovers: 12.3 (2) 14.8 (20)

This season
Blazers 2-1

Dec. 17, 2009 in Portland
Blazers 105, Suns 102
Portland stunned Phoenix by rallying from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to steal the victory.
Jerryd Bayless scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, finishing with a then-career high 29.
The Blazers outscored the Suns 35-21 in the final period, keyed by a 16-2 run.
Brandon Roy added 27 points and eight rebounds for Portland, while LaMarcus Aldridge and Martell Webster contributed 15 points and seven rebounds apiece.
Amare Stoudemire scored a team-high 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Phoenix.

Feb. 10 at Phoenix
Blazers 108, Suns 101
Portland never trailed in the victory — the team’s first at Phoenix since 2004.
The Blazers made their first seven shots from the floor, shot 58.4 percent from the field, and connected on 71.1 percent of their floor attempts in the first half.
Leading 60-44 at halftime, Portland stretched its advantage to 22 points late in the third quarter.
Aldridge scored a team-high 22 points on 11-of-17 shooting. Andre Miller added 20 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
Stoudemire scored a game-high 24 points to top the Suns.

March 21 at Phoenix
Suns 93, Blazers 87
Up by four heading into the fourth quarter, Portland fell late to Phoenix to negate a season sweep of the series.
Roy shot just 8 of 25 from the floor, while the Blazers hit only 2 of their 17 3-point attempts.
Miller led Portland with 22 points and a game-high nine assists, while Marcus Camby pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds.
Despite the loss, the Blazers turned the ball over just four times — one away from a franchise low.
Stoudemire led Phoenix with 18 points.
The Suns shot 9 of 15 from the field during a decisive fourth quarter.

A season to remember

2009-10 timeline

June 25 — Blazers acquire Dante Cunningham, Jeff Pendergraph, Patty Mills via 2009 NBA Draft

July 24 — Blazers sign free agent Andre Miller

Aug. 6 — Brandon Roy signs five-year, maximum contract extension

Aug. 17 — Blazers kick off 40-year anniversary with press conference at Mark Morris High School in Longview

Sept. 17 — Blazers sign free agent Juwan Howard

Oct. 14 — Blazers celebrate 40-year anniversary with preseason game at Memorial Coliseum

Oct. 22 — LaMarcus Aldridge signs five-year contract extension

Oct. 22 — Blazers waive Ime Udoka, Jarron Collins; retain Mills

Oct. 27 — Steve Blake, Roy, Martell Webster, Aldridge, Greg Oden start for Blazers to open regular season

Oct. 27 — Blazers open 2009-10 campaign with home victory over Houston

Oct. 30 — Nicolas Batum undergoes shoulder surgery; misses 45 games

Nov. 6 — Blazers use three-guard lineup of Blake, Miller, Roy for
nine games; go 7-2 during stretch

Nov. 16 — Blazers owner Paul Allen diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Nov. 23 — Oden records career-high 24 points on 7-of-8 shooting and 12 rebounds in 24-point home blowout of Chicago

Nov. 28 — Miller plays just six minutes in road loss to Utah

Dec. 5 — Oden fractures left patella; out for season

Dec. 7 — Nate McMillan ruptures Achilles tendon during practice

Dec. 8 — Rudy Fernandez undergoes microdisectomy; misses 19 games

Dec. 15 — Miller takes over starting point-guard role 26 games into season

Dec. 17 — Blazers sign Anthony Tolliver

Dec. 17 — McMillan records 1,000th combined win as coach, player

Dec. 22 — Joel Przybilla ruptures right patella; out for season

Dec. 23 — Jerryd Bayless scores career-high 31 points in road win over San Antonio

Dec. 25 — Roy scores 41 points in Christmas Day home victory over Denver on national television

Dec. 30 — Blazers sign Shavlik Randolph

Jan. 1 — Blake hospitalized with pneumonia

Jan. 2 — Roy scores 23 points or more for 15th consecutive game

Jan. 3 — Blazers recall Mills from Development League

Jan. 4 — Miller records 22 points, season-high 16 assists; first Blazer with 20-15 since Kenny Anderson in 1997

Jan. 7 — Miller, McMillan engage in heated, expletive-filled argument during practice

Jan. 8 — Blazers defeat Los Angeles Lakers for ninth consecutive time at Rose Garden

Jan. 15 — Roy misses first of 14 games with right hamstring strain

Jan. 26 — Private, nude photos of Oden appear on internet

Jan. 28 — Roy earns third consecutive NBA All-Star selection

Jan. 30 — Miller records career-high 52 points, sets franchise record with 22 made field goals in road win over Dallas

Feb. 4 — Blazers sweep season series against San Antonio for first time since 1996-97

Feb. 9 — Blazers play in front of 100th consecutive sellout crowd at Rose Garden

Feb. 16 — Blazers acquire Marcus Camby; trade Blake, Travis Outlaw to Los Angeles Clippers

Feb. 16 — Roy returns to lineup

Feb. 16 — Webster ties career high with 28 points and sets career high with seven made 3-pointers in home win over Clippers

Feb. 19 — Camby plays first game as Blazer in home loss to Boston

Feb. 23 — Batum replaces Webster in starting lineup

Feb. 27 — Batum records career-high 31 points in road win over Minnesota

March 3 — Blazers sign Travis Diener

March 5 — Oden says he will try and return for playoffs

March 8 — Przybilla re-ruptures patella, undergoes second surgery

March 9 — Ex-Blazer Bill Walton receives standing ovation during pregame ceremony at Rose Garden

March 15 — Roy earns Western Conference player of the week

March 16 — Blazers fire Tom Penn, vice president of basketball operations

March 19 — Roy sinks 22-foot jump shot with 0.9 seconds to go to give Portland home win over Washington

March 22 — Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard, president Larry Miller speak with media to address rumors about Pritchard’s job security

March 25 — Allen releases three-paragraph statement about Pritchard’s status, Penn’s firing

April 11 — Roy tears right meniscus during road win over Lakers

April 12 — Camby records season-high 30 points as Blazers defeat Oklahoma City for 50th win of the season

April 14 — Miller, Fernandez, Batum, Cunningham, Howard start for Blazers to close regular season

April 14 — Blazers earn No. 6 seed in Western Conference playoffs for first-round matchup against No. 3 Phoenix

April 14 — Blazers finish regular season with 311 games missed due to injury; most of any playoff team, second-most in NBA

April 16 — Roy undergoes surgery to repair torn meniscus

April 18 — Blazers open first-round best-of-seven series against Suns in Phoenix

In the past
The last time the Blazers:
Won the NBA championship: 1977 — defeated Philadelphia, 4-2
Won the Western Conference Finals: 1992 — defeated Utah, 4-2
Won a second-round series: 2000 — defeated Utah, 4-1
Won a first-round series: 2000 — defeated Minnesota, 3-1
Made it to the first round: 2009 — lost to Houston, 4-2

In the playoffs
Individual franchise records
Points: Bonzi Wells; 45; April 23, 2003
Rebounds: Bill Walton; 24; June 3, 1977
Assists: Four tied with 15 — Rod Strickland; May 3, 1994
Steals: Lionel Hollins; 8; May 8, 1977
Blocked shots: Bill Walton, 8; June 5, 1977
Franchise records
Points: 153 — April 11, 1992 at Phoenix (double OT)
Made field goals: 57 — April 18, 1985 at Dallas (double OT)
Made free throws: 43 — April 8, 1990 versus San Antonio
Rebounds: 62 — April 18, 1985 at Dallas (double OT)
Assists: 37 — May 31, 1977 versus Philadelphia
Margin of victory: 32 — May 31, 1977 versus Philadelphia

Playoff appearances: 27
Record: 93-107
Titles: 1 — 1977

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