Tag: Blazers-Mavericks

Trail Blazers Wallace celebrates against Mavericks during NBA playoff game in Portland, Oregon.

NBA Playoffs: Portland’s passion no match for Dallas execution

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Like Brandon Roy before him, Portland’s Gerald Wallace gave it everything he could on Thursday night. There was the 9-0 run by himself at the start, the playing through back pain, the great fourth quarter effort that culminated in 32 points (on 17 shots).

But as it has been for most of this series, even that kind of effort from Portland was just not enough. The Blazers played a good first and fourth quarters, much of it driven by emotion and great individual stands, but the 35 point combined second quarter was not enough to secure a win.

Dallas has been the better team. They executed better and more consistently all series. Dirk Nowitzki has been the best player — he had 33 and 11 in this game and for stretches just took over Game 6. With that the Mavericks are moving on to face the Lakers in the second round after a 103-96 Game 6 win on the road.

Portland needed a lot more LaMarcus Aldridge this series (he had 24 points in Game 6 but needed 25 points to get them). Tyson Chandler was the guy who controlled the paint in this series, doing it with defense and rebounds. That was one key difference — Dallas had someone to counter Portland’s best player, the Blazers had no answers for Dirk.

Portland could not get the easy buckets they needed. Dallas controlled the ball and had few turnovers, taking away the transition buckets Portland wanted. Dallas also controlled the glass, so few easy putbacks for Portland.

In fact, Portland’s late run to almost come back in the fourth quarter of Game 6 was fueled by six Dallas turnovers that let Portland get out and run a little.

But in the end, it was too little, too late. Dallas got control of the game (and Portland sat Andre Miller, which seemed an odd decision). Dallas looked like the better team.

Portland has nothing to hang their heads about — in a transition year (with the realization they needed to move away from the Greg Oden/Brandon Roy plan) they still won 48 games and showed what could be. They have some building blocks.

For Dallas, a prime upset pick in the first round (guilty as charged) they proved the doubters wrong. This is a good team and playing well. Whether Tyson Chandler can control the Lakers front line and if Dirk can match the scoring pace of Kobe are different questions. But Dallas will get the chance to prove it belongs as a contender starting Monday in Los Angeles.

NBA Playoffs: Portland’s offense had better turn up soon

Portland Trail Blazers v Dallas Mavericks - Game Five
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Dallas is the team in control here.

Not just because they are up 3-2 in games, but because they have controlled play for all but one quarter in recent games and for most of this series. Dallas has shot better, rebounded better and defended better. Portland had Brandon Roy in the hot tub time machine for one quarter.

Portland has to find some better answers to why they can’t get consistent offense or their season ends at the Rose Garden Thursday

Portland’s primary source of offense is LaMarcus Aldridge, but Tyson Chandler has limited him. In the playoffs teams take away your best scoring option. The bigger issue is there have been no good second options for the Blazers. Well, except for one fourth quarter for the ages by Roy, but that is not a sustainable solution.

You would think that Andre Miller and Gerald Wallace would be enough (and they are scoring 28.6 points a game between them) but it’s about spacing — Portland needs the three ball to open up lanes into the packed-in Dallas defense. Miller doesn’t shoot threes (he had four all season so his four in the playoffs is a small miracle) and Wallace is shooting 18 percent in the playoffs from deep. The result has been a lot of contested long two-point shots by Portland, and that is just not an efficient way to score. (Remember how much better the Blazers offense looked when Wes Mathews caught fire from three in Game 3? They need more of that.)

Meanwhile Dallas has gotten balance from their deep roster that Portland lacks — every game somebody has stepped up besides Nowitzki. Jason Terry one game, Shawn Marion another. That has kept them ahead.

If Portland is going to force a Game 7 they have to keep Dirk Nowitzki off the free throw line, where he has made a second home this series. They need to get some offensive rebounds. Portland also needs to create some turnovers — that was a staple of their regular season success. Bottom line, via rebound or running they need some easy points and to stop letting Dallas get so many.

Portland has to figure out something fast, because Dallas has controlled this series of late. If not for Roy — who has been up and down this series — it would be over.

It may well be over tonight.

NBA Playoffs: No comeback this time, Dallas gets defensive in win

Dirk Nowitzki
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Dallas has basically won seven of the last eight quarters against Portland.

The series is 3-2 and headed back to Portland because of Brandon Roy’s epic fourth quarter Saturday (which John Hollinger of ESPN said so well was not Roy’s best quarter it was anyone’s best quarter).

Monday night there was no Roy making plays in the fourth quarter, there was no Blazers comeback. There was Dallas taking the lead in the third quarter clamping down on defense and getting  a win 93-82.

Dallas dominted this game — they grabbed 20 offensive rebounds, or 41.7 percent of their missed shot resulted in a second chance. Those offensive rebounds really cut off any dreams of a Portland comeback in the fourth quarter — they’d get a stop but Dallas would get the board and reset the offense. Dallas was also just more aggressive and that resulted in them shooting nearly twice as many free throws (35 to 18).

But the real key for Dallas was a dominating second half defensive performance where the Trail Blazers scored just 39 points. Dallas held Portland to 43 percent shooting for the game and  Portland had just a 97.6 points per 100 possessions average. LaMarcus Aldridge to 12 points on 15 shots and Dallas focused on shutting him down, although they really shut everyone down. Or look at it this way: Jason Kidd had more assists (14) than the Blazers team (13).

Tyson Chandler was a beast, with 20 rebounds — 13 offensive — and 14 points, plus helping hold Aldridge in check. He came out with energy from the opening tip and when he does that Dallas is so difficult to stop. When Chandler plays like this you think Dallas could be a contender.

In particularl Dallas really smoked Portland’s small-ball lineup, which Nate McMillan tried in the second half and stuck with even as Dallas took control of the game. The lack of rebounding realy did in Portland.

This series is not over — we have seen the magic of the Rose Garden. We know what Portland can do. We know a Game 7 is not out of the question and anything can happen in one game.

But if Dallas brings the defense like this again, they will be playing in the second round soon.

NBA Playoffs: Will the Mavs come undone?

Dallas Mavericks v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Four

There aren’t many choke job opportunities in your every day life.

Think about it. You can say someone choked on that stage, but they never go through 80% of speech or performance and then just when the crowd is preparing to give them a standing ovation trip on a banana peel or make a racist joke.  Just doesn’t happen. You don’t choke in meetings, you bomb. You don’t choke when fixing your car, remodeling your kitchen, or raising your kids.

So for something that doesn’t happen in the majority of human existence, the Mavericks have an unconscionable amount of experience with doing so. The question now is if undergoing yet another catastrophic collapse is going to affect them the way it has before… except, you know, those weren’t the same teams.

The 2006 team that lost the Finals after being up? Yeah, here’s that roster. There are two players left from that team. Oh, but how about that 2007 team that lost to the freaking Warriors in the first round? Yup, same two players. Now, you can be a troglodyte and suppose that Dirk Nowitzki, one of the best clutch performers in the game, and Jason Terry, whose fourth quarters are legendary, are the problem, since they make up those two players, or, you can assume that the first was a monumental performance from one of the greatest players of his time in drawing fouls and making a difference, the second was a matter of matchups which can derail big-picture logic in a series faster than anything else, and this?

This was just Brandon Roy putting on a show. What are you going to do, really?

But that is the question now. What are the Mavs going to do? Are they going to come apart as the pundits are hoping, praying, wishing they will so they can pile on? Or will they do what teams as good as they are do, which is buckle down, get over it, come out in Game 5 at home and crush the hopes of the upstart in a rain of superior execution and experience? This is an entirely different Mavericks team than the one that fell apart against the Warriors. Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Peja Stojakovic, Terry, Nowitzki, they all have experience in these types of situations and know how to respond.

Even more dubious? The odds of Brandon Roy doing what he did again. Forget Roy’s injury issues. Let’s assume the Brandon Roy of old is back, just for fun. Roy was launching shots that could have been, should have been, and would have been better contested. The Rose Garden got to the Mavericks, there’s no doubt. But a team that’s been as good defensively as the Mavericks have will respond. The Mavs certainly could use Caron Butler in this spot, but even without him, there are systemic adjustments they can make to respond.

It was a tough loss, but the Mavericks were a few missed plays away from going up 3-1 in this series. It’s a best-of-three again. But really, if the Mavericks thought this was going to be easy, they were fooling themselves. On the other hand, it works both ways. If the Blazers expect this Mavericks team to lay down and die, they’re probably confused in their own right.

NBA Playoffs: Brandon Roy and the Rose Garden Time Machine

Dallas Mavericks v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Four

Portland 84 Dallas 82.

You could not have written it better.

Well, maybe if it was Game 7. But then it would be in Dallas and that’s a whole different result.

In sports, a lot of us have become repulsed by cliches, by ridiculous preconceived storylines forced down our throats. But there is still something powerful, something palpable, about stories like what Brandon Roy did in Game 4 against the Dallas Mavericks in Portland. In front of a desperate, always emotional Rose Garden crowd, the Blazers stormed back from a 23-point deficit Saturday night behind 18 fourth quarter points from a player who less than a week ago was crying as he was left on the bench for much of the game due to injury. Nate McMillan rewarded the one-time All-Star with playing time, and he came through with an outright barrage. Off the dribble, from the corner, slip-screen catch-and-shoot, dagger after dagger after dagger. The crowd responded with a roar, Roy wound up with a four-point-play off a nice sell by Roy on a touch foul, and the Mavericks were caught in a tidal wave of emotion.

That’s sports.

For Dallas, they now get to enjoy two days of non-stop talk about 2006. And 2007. And 2010. Collapses like these define the Mavericks in common media, because it’s easy. That overlooks the incredible job they did in building the lead, which was an outlier in and of itself, as was the bizarre meltdown from the Blazers. The fourth quarter was more a reversion to the mean offensively than anything, from a macro level, and the momentum carried Portland to the win.

That’s a macro level. But to really enjoy this, you have to look micro, you have to look at Roy.

To say that Roy sparked the team on his own sounds absurd, but with 18 in the 4th quarter, what else can you say? Roy used the glass on runners, he nailed pull-up threes. He dropped everything you can think of and went back for more. He played point for a long stretch. That, in itself, is maddening to think about, before you look at his production.

The Mavericks certainly helped out, dropping poor decision after poor decision. Jason Kidd, he of a million years experience, had turnovers. The Mavericks could not convert, despite some key shots from Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki. But strangely, the Mavericks went away from Dirk down the stretch. Part of that is great help defense by the Blazers. All of it led to a 23-point comeback.

Heroic is a word you can use. Outlier is a word you can use. Unbelievable is definitely a word you can use.

It was the stuff of legend, and just when the Mavericks looked like they were going to take complete control of the series, end the hopes of a great crowd, and exert themselves as the better team, the Rose Garden erupts, Brandon Roy returns, and the series is tied. We’ll play three more. If the Mavericks let this get to them, to rattle them and break up their confidence, this could be the upset Blazer fans were so confident about. But regardless, it made for an amazing game, and an incredible comeback for a player who needed it for his soul.

Sports. What are you gonna do?