Mavericks-Trail Blazers Preview
While the energy in the first-round playoff series against
Dallas looks to have tilted Portland’s way, the Trail Blazers still
need to address some issues if they hope to even the series.
The Blazers need to improve aspects of their defense, despite
the 97-92 victory in Game 3. And they’re still lacking production
from the bench, even though Brandon Roy’s 16 points were somewhat a
”We can be better,” coach Nate McMillan said Friday. ”And
we’re going to need to be better.”
Wesley Matthews led the Blazers with 25 points in Portland’s
victory Thursday night, which drew the Blazers within 2-1 into
The result was true to the regular-season series, when each team
won twice on their home court. The Blazers will host the Mavericks
in Game 4 on Saturday afternoon.
Besides Matthews, LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points in the
victory. Dependable veteran guard Andre Miller had 16 – as did Roy,
who had scored just one field goal in the previous two playoff
Roy had groused in frustration after going scoreless in Game 2.
His comments touched off controversy in Portland, where fans seemed
divided in their support.
The three-time All-Star had arthroscopic surgery on both his
knees in January and has struggled with his role off the bench.
But spurred by the presence of his family, and supportive text
messages – even one from Charles Barkley – Roy played with abandon
in Game 3.
Now the trick for him is to do it again.
”Last night I went out there and just played and had fun,” Roy
said. ”And that’s what I’m going to have to do on Saturday.”
Overall, the Mavericks’ bench outscored the Blazer’s bench by
109-56 through the first three games.
The Blazers had trouble stopping Jason Terry, who came off the
bench and had 29 points and seven assists. The game before that it
was Peja Stojakovic who gave the Blazers fits, and the game before
that, there was Jason Kidd. Those three have had the bulk of
scoring to complement Dirk Nowitzki.
”We’d like to get a few more guys involved and able to score a
few more points. But if you’re not going to have a balanced game,
you need to have a couple of guys who go for big numbers,”
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. ”There’s no set formula for
us. We don’t say Dirk’s gotta be the first guy and Jet (Terry) is
going to be the second and (Shawn) Marion’s the third work that way
The Mavericks opened this year’s playoffs 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
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.
”It usually comes down to X-factors and who makes shots,” said
Nowitzki, who had 25 points and nine rebounds in Game 3. ”In the
playoffs you have to attack from everywhere, and you have to make
shots and make enough plays from all over the place. Whoever is in
has to be in that attack mode to really help the team win.”
Nowtizki said the Mavericks also need to correct minor things
that stood out in Game 3 – Dallas had 13 turnovers and made just 13
of 23 free-throw attempts. But he liked how his team was able to
hang with the Blazers in front of the their hometown crowd.
”We feel like we took their best blow and we’re still right
there,” he said. ”We have another opportunity on Saturday, and
obviously we don’t want to go home with a tied series.”
Portland has won 11 of its last 10 at the Rose Garden. Overall
against Dallas, the Blazers have a 47-18 advantage at home in the
regular season, and they’re 7-1 in playoff games.
Dallas is 2-1 when it 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.