Mavericks-Trail Blazers Preview

The Dallas Mavericks keep catching the Trail Blazers off

guard.

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

season.

”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

twice.

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

games.

”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 Blazers.

The three-time All-Star struggled during the regular season with

knee issues, finally undergoing arthroscopic surgery on both knees

in mid-January.

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

me.”

The Blazers could do without the distraction as they prepare for

Game 3. McMillan gave the team a break with a maintenance day on

Wednesday.

”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

report.