Trail Blazers vs Dallas Mavericks Game 2 Preview
There’s no need to push the panic button just yet. There’s a lot of game left, tons of time to tweak out the necessary adjustments and time for the Portland Trail Blazers to establish themselves in this series. Tonight is Round 2, still in Dallas and the Mavericks are feeling good about how they overcame a six point hole in the fourth quarter to take Game 1, a game the Blazers should have had. For Dallas, it was a victory that shook the monkey off their backs and in their minds that they can’t advance deeper into the playoffs. For Portland, solid performances by LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Miller and Marcus Camby went to waste with nothing else coming from the rest of the team. Wesley Matthews was in early foul trouble, Gerald Wallace looked nervous, Brandon Roy stunk up the court, so did Rudy Fernandez. For Portland to walk away from Dallas tonight tied 1-1 and head back to the Rose Garden, the following things must happen tonight:
More team contributions: Matthews was hit hard with two quick fouls in the opening minutes and was taken out of the entire game. Gerald Wallace didn’t look too comfortable like we grew used to and was scoreless the entire first half. Brandon Roy was left in the entire fourth quarter and didn’t produce anything. Rudy Fernandez hit a three but as usual, disappeared. Wallace said after the game he felt he was “horrible” even though he sort-of came alive in the second half, so tonight if the Blazers need more action from anyone it as got to be Matthews. He’s our best three-point shooter and one of our better, quicker defenders so he needs to light it up. Expect Wallace to come out smelling blood and being a bigger part of the offensive. Nic Batum had a nice outing on Saturday, containing Dirk Nowitzki for much of the game and shouldn’t be asked to change anything. With more Matthews on the floor, means less time for Roy. Less Roy means less turnovers and isolation moves so Portland needs to start running the ball more.
Foul trouble/Foul shots: To figure out how the Mavericks came back down six points in the middle of the fourth is to look at how many times they got to the line. Dallas shot 25-29 free throws during the course of the game while Portland shot 9-13. That’s unbelievable. Nowitzki himself shot/made more free throws than the entire Blazers team, making 13-13, most of them in the fourth. Coach Nate blew the whistle and believed some questionable fouls were called against the Blazers and was fined $35,000 yesterday. Considering Portland committed 26 total fouls while Wallace is getting smacked in the head by Nowitzki is something that will be looked at closer tonight. The Blazers need to get to the foul line as much as they can tonight and hopefully some calls will go our way.
Jason Kidd: 24 points, 6-10 from the three for someone who averages 8 points a game and is 38 years old. He got lucky in Game 1 and has only scored above 20 points only four times this season. Will he be on fire tonight? I doubt it, if Portland dare him from the three and he’s still making them, then we have a problem but I doubt Kidd can go back on the court and do what he did in Game 1. Portland did a good job shutting Nowitzki down for much of the game but like he always does, he came alive in the fourth. What helped too was off games by Jason Terry, Shawn Marion and everyone else in a Dallas uniform. Shut down Dirk and we can shut down Dallas all together.
Basically, what we saw on Saturday should not be the case tonight. They have had the rest of the weekend to ponder and think about their game plan and strategies, and I’m very confident that the Blazers can rise up and tie this sucker 1-1 a piece and bring the momentum back to Portland. If we see another hot night from Jason Kidd or Dirk, we can live with it, but more guys are going to need to step up big tonight for the win.
photo courtesy of nba.com/blazers