There’s a lot going on, emotionally, in Rip City, as there always is. But if the Blazers want to get back into this thing and prevent Dallas from putting distance between themselves and Portland, Nate McMillan’s crew is going to have to walk a fine line between relying on emotion to push them on, and succumbing to too much and getting out of control.
The Mavericks have the Blazers where they want them. Portland played pretty well in Games 1 and 2, and it still wasn’t enough. That’s actually better than a blowout and one near-win. Dallas has momentum and confidence they can overcome the Blazers’ best effort. The Blazers need that Rose Garden magic. It’ll be there. Homecourt advantage is overblown in the first round, if the higher seed has issues, they have issues. But Portland’s energy is legit. That said, Dallas won’t be rattled. They’ve got about 700 years of playoff experience, a loud arena won’t do the trick.
Portland does have to actually play. Gerald Wallace had a much better Game 2, lodging 18 points. LaMarcus Aldridge is something they can count on. But what the Blazers really need is a wing to have a huge game. Put on a shooting barrage, kill the Mavericks where they’re weakest, at the wing position and flummox them where they have no matchup to answer with. Someone kind of like… Brandon Roy. But a safer alternative would be Wesley Matthews. Matthews got that gigantic paycheck this summer. It’s time for him to make good on it when they need him most. Interestingly, Matthews shoots worse at home than he does on the road. So he’s going to have to buck that trend. Or Brandon Roy’s going to need DeLorean.
For Dallas? More of the same. Jason Kidd’s not going to keep shooting like this (we think). So Jason Terry needs to get loose. But the best thing going for Dallas right now is their defense, and that’s not going away. As long as Dirk Nowitzki keeps closing games, they’re in good shape.
One more game and Dallas can start eying their travel calendars and L.A. flights. But a win means the Blazers’ two close games were signs they can hang with Dallas. That’s pretty much the definition of a “pivotal” game, right?
This one’s pretty pivotal.