Emotionally, Brandon Roy Makes the Difference

Pete TreperinasCorrespondent IApril 25, 2010

PHOENIX - MARCH 21:  Brandon Roy #7 of the Portland Trail Blazers puts up a three point shot over Jason Richardson #23 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on March 21, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers looked done.

Prior to Saturday's victory, Portland had lost two in a row to a hot Phoenix Suns squad that didn't look like it would be letting up at all in Game Four.

Then something big happened.

The star and leader of the Blazers, Brandon Roy, made a shocking return just eight days after arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. 

It was apparent before the beginning of the series that it would take nothing short of an all-around team effort to knock off Phoenix without Roy. Embracing this role, the Blazers got away with a win in Game One thanks to the heroics of Andre Miller who dropped 31. LaMarcus Aldridge has also become a top scoring option for Portland in Roy's absence. 

It didn't matter how well these role players performed, though, because without Roy on the court, the Blazers were missing a leader. He had been injured a few times this year, and you could see it in the way the team played without him that he was imperative to their success. 

Even in his return, Roy scored only 10 points. But would Portland be tied up 2-2 in the series without the 27 minutes he played? Doubtful. 

Roy's presence in a game, whether he's leading the team in scoring or not, is huge. The Blazers are his team. He knows how to keep the tempo going far better than guys like Miller and Jerryd Bayless. Not to mention, the fans at the Rose Garden fed off Roy's surprise return and created a hostile environment for Phoenix to play in.

It's hard to tell what kind of role Roy will have in the rest of the series. To expect him to be even close to 100 percent so soon after knee surgery would be unrealistic, and he won't likely put up his average 21 points per game, but just getting him into the rotation and giving him control of the offense should bring back some regularity to a Blazers team that has been deprived of it. 

Games Two and Three were pretty lackluster for the Blazers, and their performance as well as their inability to answer the high-powered Suns offense led to embarrassment and blowouts. 

I think Roy helps eliminate the possibility of this occurring again in the series. Without Roy suited up, Portland looked lost, and at times, hopeless. From an emotional standpoint, just having Roy back on the court means a ton for Portland, and it definitely gives the Blazers more of a legitimate chance of competing, and possibly winning the series.