The weary Portland Trail Blazers finally are getting some rest as they wait for an opponent in the NBA finals.
After 13 playoff games in 26 days, Coach Rick Adelman's team was off on Saturday, a second consecutive day of rest. The only activity was a brief meeting."We really needed this," Adelman said. "It's been hectic both emotionally and physically. For us to get two days off and get our legs back will help."
Portland, a finalist for the first time since winning the NBA title in 1977, returns to practice on Sunday while the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls decide the Eastern Conference finalist. The deciding game of that best-of-7 series will be played Sunday at the Pistons' home court.
If the Pistons win, the Blazers plan to fly to Detroit Sunday night for the Tuesday night opener of the Finals. If the Bulls win, Chicago will play at Portland Tuesday night.
Forward Buck Williams said the Blazers were exhausted after their series-clinching victory at Phoenix Thursday night. The team stayed up most of the night and was greeted by a wildly enthusiastic crowd estimated at 10,000 when they arrived at Hillsboro airport at 1:35 a.m.
"It's helped me out tremendously," Williams said of the time off. "There comes a time in the season when you need this. Eight months of playing the game and the fatigue factor starts to set in. This will be good for all of us."
Guards Terry Porter and Drazen Petrovic were the only Blazers who ventured onto the court Saturday, devoting 30 minutes to some long-range shooting.
"Just trying to keep my touch," Porter said.
The days off will mean Portland will be the better rested team in the Finals. That's something unusual for a team that hadn't had more than a day between contests since the second game of the Western Conference semifinal series against San Antonio.
"When you play every other day with a high intensity level, it takes something out of you," Porter said. "This gives us a chance to get our legs back and a day to enjoy" winning the conference championship.
In public, at least, the Blazers insist they don't care which team makes it to the Finals. It would seem, however, that it would to Portland's advantage to face Chicago, since that pairing would give the Blazers the home-court advantage.
Portland is 9-0 at home in the playoffs and 2-6 on the road. The Blazers had lost five straight away games before the 112-109 victory at Phoenix on Thursday.
The Blazers split season series against Detroit and Chicago, with each team winning at home.
"Both teams are very even," Adelman said, "and both present different problems."
"I don't care who we play," Porter said. "It doesn't matter.