Mavericks-Trail Blazers Preview
The Dallas Mavericks keep catching the Trail Blazers off
First it was Jason Kidd, then it was Peja Stojakovic – as if
defending Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t enough.
The surprising success of those two veterans has put the Mavs in
control as they head to Portland with a 2-0 lead in their
first-round playoff series against the Blazers.
So it begs the question, who will break out for Dallas in Game 3
Thursday night at the Rose Garden? Jason Terry? Shawn Marion?
Nowitzki said the Mavs have been trying to spread it around all
”We’ve been doing that second scorer by committee. Marion had a
great finish to the season, Jet (Terry) has been there all season
long and Peja was a great addition at the trade deadline because
he’s still a great knockdown shooter,” Nowitzki said.
But even collectively, visiting the Rose Garden could pose a
challenge for the Mavs. They split the regular season series
against the Blazers, with each team winning on their home court
Portland is 30-11 this season at the Rose Garden, winning 10 of
their last 11. Overall against Dallas, the Blazers have a 46-18
advantage at home in the regular season, and they’re 6-1 in playoff
”We know that they (Portland) are a very good home team so we
wanted to hold home court here and go up there with a 2-0 lead but
this series is far from over,” Nowitzki said. ”They play well at
home, they make shots, and they play tough D so we’ve got to be
prepared for a tough game on Thursday.”
Dallas is 2-1 overall when they’ve opened 2-0 in 15 previous
best-of-7 series. The exception was the 2006 NBA Finals when the
Miami Heat defeated the Mavericks in six games. The Heat were just
the third team to claim a championship after trailing 0-2.
The last time Dallas and Portland met in the playoffs was 2003.
The Mavs claimed the first three games before the Blazers won the
next three. The Mavericks took the deciding game in Dallas.
The third-seeded Mavericks opened this year’s series with an
89-81 victory. Kidd had 24 points, including a playoff career-best
six 3-pointers. Nowitzki had 28 points – 18 in the fourth quarter
alone – and 10 rebounds.
In a 101-89 Game 2 victory, Stojakovic tied his career playoff
best with five 3-pointers and finished with 21 points, while Kidd
pitched in 18. Nowitzki, showing more resolve than in the opener,
finished with 33.
Dallas signed Stojakovic in January after he was waived by
Toronto. He’d hardly played because of injuries.
”His shot-making was great and very timely, but his defense was
better,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. ”He just was really
solid. He didn’t let anybody drive by him all night, which was
huge, and he just played a terrific all-around game.”
Dallas is shooting 47 percent from 3-point range in the
playoffs, as opposed to 36 percent in the regular season.
Obviously Portland will need to do a better job with perimeter
defense in Game 3.
”We’ve got to do a better job of getting first control of the
ball. The basketball is getting to the paint, which is forcing the
defense to collapse, and we’re losing these guys on the three point
line – Jason Kidd, Stojakovic,” coach Nate McMillan said.
And Portland needs to get more production out of their reserves.
In Game 2, the Mavs’ backups outscored Portland’s 39-11. Nicolas
Batum had 10 of those points, Rudy Fernandez had 1, and Brandon Roy
and Patty Mills both went scoreless.
Roy’s role in particular was becoming something of an issue for
The three-time All-Star struggled during the regular season with
knee issues, finally undergoing arthroscopic surgery on both knees
Upon his return, Roy struggled to find his place with the
Blazers, who had moved on without him. The playoffs have
intensified that problem. In Game 2 he played just eight minutes,
missing his lone shot.
McMillan said he limited both Roy and Fernandez because Dallas
was successful in defending them.
But Roy sparked controversy Wednesday in Portland with comments
he made to The Oregonian newspaper after the game.
”I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little hurt or
disappointed,” Roy told the paper. ”I just always thought I would
be treated a little better. That was a little disappointing for
The Blazers could do without the distraction as they prepare for
Game 3. McMillan gave the team a break with a maintenance day on
”We will protect home! We know yall are with us,” Wesley
Matthews posted on Twitter.
It certainly wasn’t all bad for the Blazers, who are getting
production from their starting five. Dallas native LaMarcus
Aldridge is averaging 25.5 points and eight rebounds in the first
two games. Matthews and Gerald Wallace were solid in Game 2 after
both had a shaky opener, and Andre Miller has been dependably solid
with 18 points in each of the two games.
”We’ve got to win the two on our home court and get this thing
back to an even ballgame,” Wallace said.
Sports Writer Jaime Aron in Dallas contributed to this