2010 Playoffs Preview: Blazers vs. Suns

Busta BucketCorrespondent IApril 18, 2010

PHOENIX - MARCH 21:  Marcus Camby #21 of the Portland Trail Blazers reaches for the tip off during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns during at US Airways Center on March 21, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Suns defeated the Trail Blazers 93-87. 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)
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As dynamic and powerful as Amare Stoudemire is for these Phoenix Suns, it's the point guard match-up that could determine the outcome of this series. Steve Nash has had another tremendous season, leading the league in assists and being the best quarterback of any team in the league. Basically if Portland can defend Nash and force him to shoot more as opposed to involving his teammates, the Blazers will have a chance to stay in these games. But, if Nash ends up averaging close to 11 assists per game, I can see Phoenix getting out to a commanding 2-0 series lead.

The other X-factor in this match-up will be Andre Miller offensively against Nash. The bigger Miller should be able to post up Nash, and with Roy out, Andre will also take an early alpha dog approach in these games and hopefully get his offense going early. As far as the back-ups go, Bayless will have an opportunity to shine against this team that doesn't defend well. Bayless on the break and attacking the basket could really give him an advantage over Dragic. Unfortunately I think the Suns win here.

With Brandon Roy sidelined for the series, the entire dynamic of this Blazer team changes. With Brandon in the line-up Phoenix would be looking to double team him at all times, but without Brandon, the Suns won't necessarily know who will pick-up the offense for Portland in the playoffs. I think Rudy and Martell can be very successful in this series considering the opponent, Rudy will want to run much like the Suns and Martell is so streaky. Jason Richardson continues to be a major threat offensively and for Portland, Martell will probably be the best option to defend him. I like the match-up and the potential for Martell as long as he plays within himself.

Rudy Fernandez and Leandro Barbosa will probably spend a fair amount of time defending each other, I know Rudy can't guard Barbosa in the open court but if Portland is spreading the floor for shooters, Rudy could have plenty of opportunities to make a few threes. In Phoenix with Brandon out, I'm going to have to give this one to the Suns as well.

Here's one of the most intriguing match-ups in this series considering Brandon Roy's absence and Nicolas Batum's emergence. Nic will take on an aging Grant Hill and his confidence should be at an all time high. Portland needing more scoring and really just someone to do so many of the little things, Batum is going to be the guy. I think Nic outplays Hill in this series.

Given the smaller line-up the Suns use, Dante Cunningham will get in opportunity to get some critical minutes at small forward. His mid range game and relentless effort will be very much needed. He'll be guarding Jared Dudley who is also a hustle guy. The only difference is that Dudley can get pretty hot from three. Dante needs to be quick on his feet and earning every second of playing time. I'm going out a limb a little here, the Blazers will win at the small forward position.

As far as head-to-head match-ups go in this series, none will be more important to Portland offensively as LaMarcus Aldridge versus Amare Stoudemire. When you compare their season numbers, Amare doesn't completely blow LaMarcus away(AS 23 & 9, LA 18 & 8). But the on court disparity is much greater. Amare's game is like kryptonite to LaMarcus. Amare is physical, explosive and very confident. He seems to overpower Aldridge most of the time. But lately, Aldridge has shown a renewed commitment to carrying the load offensively, scoring in the fourth quarter, and overall understanding what he must do for this team.

If LaMarcus can keep his confidence throughout, he will hang with Stoudemire, but I'm just skeptical right now. Game one will say a lot about how this series plays out. Juwan Howard and Louis Amundson will get a few minutes each, but neither guy will make a huge impact. But, Amare wins the match-up.

Jarron Collins may be the starter right now for Phoenix, but Channing Frye is the main contributor for Phoenix at center. Our old friend Channing has been hitting threes in bunches for Phoenix and he presents a difficult match-up for Portland if he's hitting that three. Camby won't necessarily want to come all the way out on him, which was why I thought Camby might end up guarding Stoudemire at times. Either way, Frye is living and dying by the three and even when he's hitting, it's a only a few a game. Portland should be able to win this match-up based purely on defense. Camby is going to be a monster on the glass and his help side defense on Amare will undoubtedly be needed to slow down Phoenix. The Blazers must play defense if they want to win this series, if Batum, Aldridge and Camby commit to defense, it could be very interesting. The Blazers will not go out without a fight and they'll win this match-up.

Phoenix will most likely win this contest, but I won't be at all surprised if Portland makes it a tough game throughout. Our best opportunity to steal a win will be Tuesday. Despite being down a few players, I like Portland's chances to compete in this series.

Overall Winner:


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