The first reaction for me was frustration, which gradually ceded to misery. It is shocking to go from riding such a wave of euphoric hope to being humbled like that. We fans were in the stratosphere going into this playoff opener. Fifteen-thousand people don't show up to a mid-day team rally on a weekday if there isn't a little magic in the air.
Then the game had start, and soon everyone in Rip City had their fun ruined. Yao Ming played the best first half of anyone so far in the playoffs. After his first twenty minutes or so of action he was able to kick his feet up and enjoy watching his teammates carry the load the rest of the way. Rockets players referred to as "X-factors" by some analyst or another all came up big: Brooks, Scola, Artest. Dude, even Brent Barry threw a dunk down. It really, really sucked to watch this game.
But take a step back with me. However disappointing this game was, Portland is still ahead of schedule even being in this situation. Also keep in mind that this series is far from over. For the most part Portland came out looking tentative and then shell-shocked. But this team has shown an ability to learn quickly, and I'm sure Western Conference Coach of the Month Nate McMillan will have their undivided attention.
Even if they can't solve the Rockets this time around, can you imagine how much these players could improve with an off-season of being pissed off and with first hand knowledge that further improvement is required for playoff success?
On to some random thoughts:
- Brandon Roy is the undisputed Everything. But he needs help.
- It would be nice if Roy's teammates would dare to take their usual shots. Especially if they did so with their usual confidence.
- If you have to play Bayless just so Brooks can't do whatever he wants, do it.
- Front Yao Ming, even if you don't want to.