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NBA Playoff Preview: Dallas vs. Portland

Apr 14, 2011, 1:38 PM EDT

Portland Trail Blazers v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

SEASON RECORDS
Mavericks: 57-25 (No. 3 seed)
Trail Blazers: 48-34 (No. 6 seed)

SEASON SERIES
Tied 2-2, with Portland winning the most recent two games including one just two weeks ago (a game Tyson Chandler missed, so be careful about reading much into it).

KEY INJURIES
Mavericks: Roddy Beaubois sprained his foot in the season finale, and while X-rays were negative he may miss at least some of the first round; Caron Butler has been ruled out after knee surgery.
Trail Blazers: Of the guys left on the roster and expected to play, there are no significant injuries. Brandon Roy’s knees are relatively fine, for example. We could list all the Portland injuries from this season but it would take up the entire Internet.

OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKING (points per 100 possessions)
Mavericks: Off. 107.6 (8th in NBA); 102.3 (7th in NBA)
Trail Blazers: Off. 105.6 (10th in NBA); 104.2 (14th in NBA)

THREE KEY MAVERICKS

Roddy Beaubois: There are things we know about the Dallas offense — Dirk Nowitzki is going to hit long two-pointers with a hand in his face, Jason Kidd is going to knock down threes and makes some nifty passes, and so on. We know what to expect. What Beaubois provides is the unexpected — the burst of speed, the creativity. Well, he does when he’s healthy. Like seemingly everything about the Mavericks this season Beaubois has been inconsistent, and now injuries may keep him out for part of the first round. But Dallas could use him. It needs the energy he brings.

Tyson Chandler: He has rightfully been credited as being key to the Mavericks defensive turnaround this season, there’s nothing like having a big guy who will defend the rim on your team. And he’s better offensively than he gets credit for. But like all things Mavs, the defense has been inconsistent this season, and he needs to anchor its revival. LaMarcus Aldridge cannot be allowed to take over games, Portland penetration has to be cut off, and that falls to Chandler.

Jason Terry: Portland is a very deep team and Terry coming off the bench will need to provide points to the second unit of the Mavs to make sure Portland does not get on runs while some of the starters catch their breath. Also, Jason Kidd has had some tough games against Portland this season, twice going scoreless, and Dallas needs points from the backcourt. If Kidd is off again, Terry will have to step up on offense.

THREE KEY TRAIL BLAZERS

LaMarcus Aldridge: He had big games in Portland’s two regular season wins over Dallas — but both times there was no Tyson Chandler in his way. Now there will be but Portland still needs big nights out of their leading scorer. He has to get boards, particularly offensive ones, as well. Aldridge needs to attack and if he can get Chandler into foul trouble that will be big for the Trail Blazers.

Brandon Roy: He is not going to take over this series, but he can take over a game. Back on March 15 he dropped 21 on Dallas and keyed the win. If he can be solid off the bench then have that one game or two where he looks like the old Brandon Roy and can help them steal a game, Portland’s chances improve. The long layoffs between games in the first round may help him a lot.

Gerald Wallace: He will be matched up on Dirk Nowitzki. There may be no better maker of contested shots in the league than Dirk (‘Melo is right there, too) but Wallace has to make Nowitzki work for his shots and live with the results. Also, Wallace needs to go at Nowitzki and make him work on defense, as well. Wear him down. It’s not about stopping Dirk, it’s about making him less efficient and effective.

OUTLOOK

Maybe the best first round series, period. These two teams are very evenly matched. It’s going to be late game execution and unexpected players stepping up that will be key…

But the big key is the bigs. The Chandler/Aldridge matchup will be the barometer of this series — when Aldridge gets his Portland stands a real chance of winning. When Chandler owns the paint and Portland is taking too many jump shots and not getting rebounds, Dallas will win.

Dallas’ defense has been inconsistent of late — don’t be shocked if they got back to a lot of the matchup zone they used earlier in the season to try and even things out. They cannot have off defensive games in this series, it is evenly matched and they will be challenged to win even when they are on.

The battle of the benches will also be a lot here — Portland rolls out Roy, Rudy Fernandez and Wes Mathews (catch the fever!). That is a group capable of winning a game with hot three-point shooting. Jason Terry, JJ Barea and their bench can do the same thing for Dallas. It’s just another barometer in what will be a very close series.

PREDICTION

Flip a coin. It’s been trendy to pick against Dallas lately, people are forgetting just how good they really are. They can play well at both ends.

I’m not forgetting, but I like what Wallace can do for Portland on Dirk, and I like the bench of Portland to steal a couple games, and that will be enough. Fear Wes Mathews!

Trail Blazers in 6.

  1. davidly - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Maybe the best first round series, period.
    Alright, which is it, maybe or period?

  2. thestudiokida - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    I have to weigh in on this one. Portland will kick some Dallas ASS!! Dallas and Phoenix were always great regular season teams and poor playoff teams and Dallas will continue that trend.

    Portland is a huge black horse in the west. They have a lot of very tough, intelligent and talented players along with a good coach. They could make it to the conference finals if everything clicks… but probably just a first-round upset of the Mavericks.

    • thestudiokida - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:49 PM

      Oops I’m sorry. I meant Dark Horse not black horse. I’m not racist I promise :-o

      • jjared1101 - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:41 AM

        I’m not saying the 2006 was fairly officiated,

        ——————————————-

        First of all… I’d hardly call going 29pts and 15rebs in an elimination game giving up.

        Secondly…..if you think the Finals were not fairly officiated, then the rest of your rant is stupid. Because with that logic, you’re saying winners don’t give even when the refs are cheating. You’re also saying that you shouldn’t complain to the refs, even if they are cheating.

        That’s the stupidest thing i’ve ever heard.

        Listen, you want to say Portland has a chance to beat Dallas, great. My opinion still stands that it’s pretty dumb to say they’ll “kick some Dallas ASS”, when you really don’t have ground to stand on. Portland has had injures, but they have also accomplished far less in the last 10 years than Dallas has. And like i said, if you want to keep it recent, they’ve done more in the last 2 years as well.

        Good luck to Portland. Dallas has respect for them, but lets not confuse the team with the worse track record.

    • jjared1101 - Apr 14, 2011 at 5:10 PM

      You’re talking about Dallas’ playoff woes when Portland hasn’t been out of the first round in over 10 years…..funny.

      • thestudiokida - Apr 14, 2011 at 8:08 PM

        @jjared1101 Let me make my reasoning clear:

        Portland hasn’t been out of the 1st round in 10 years but they have a new best player. LaMarcus Aldridge has taken the reins of this team and he refuses to let them quit when their outlook seemed grim (from injuries). Maybe equally important is that they stole Gerald Wallace from the Bobcats and he has been huge for them.

        Dallas has had the same best player for 10 years and Dirk has always been the type to whine to officials rather than lead by example with toughness and determination. I would bet my life savings on Portland at this point.

      • jjared1101 - Apr 14, 2011 at 9:36 PM

        LaMarcus Aldrige is a very good player, and i think he was deserving of an all star appearence. But he’s shooting at about the same percentage as he always has but taking 2-3 more shots on avg more than usual (17.5 compared to 15.3). So yea, he’s taking shots in place of other guys who have been injured. But he hasn’t transformed in to some beast that can’t be stopped. Your assertion that Portland will “kick some Dallas ASS!!”, is a little bold considering they split the series during the regular season.

        You like to bring up Dallas’ playoff hardships over the years, well Dallas was in the semi-finals two years ago. Portland hasn’t got out of the first round in years. So it’s a great stat for you to throw out, but if you want to keep it recent, Dallas has still been further than Portland.

        Also, Dirk whining to the refs? What? I don’t know where you get this from. If you want to point out Dirk for whining to refs, i think you could say he does just about as much as anybody else in the league. Lead by example with toughness and determination is exactly what Dirk has been about his entire career. He’s played every year of his career and has only played less that 73 games one time. So check the guy out before you talk about his toughness and leading by example.

        You want to bet your life savings on a basketball game, be my guest. But don’t cloud your judgement about a hall of fame player based on your Blazer blinders. They got a chance to beat the Mavericks, but you may want to get out of the first round before you start talking about other teams getting their ass kicked.

      • thestudiokida - Apr 14, 2011 at 11:52 PM

        If you want to see Dirk cry look no further than the 2006 NBA Finals. When Wade started driving the lane and getting to the free-throw line repeatedly all Dirk could do is scream at the officials. The same happened the following year when his team was stunned by the Warriors in the 1st round.

        I’m not saying the 2006 was fairly officiated, but that doesn’t change how Dirk gave up on his team while D-Wade lowered his head and put in work. That’s the difference between champions and people like Dirk; maybe they all yell at the officials but when it comes down to a big game that your team is losing or overmatched a winner is confident and makes his teammates believe that they can win. A loser finds excuses and feels sorry for themselves.

  3. louderthanwords1 - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    Really? My comment gets deleted because I call out Kurt Helin for not knowing Corey Brewer plays for the Mavs not Portland?! And he uses Portlands bench as a reason they will win but doesn’t even realize one of the guys he thinks can make a difference plays for the other team! With his Wes Mathews comment I feel he is somebody who watches a few highlight clips of the teams here and there and types some jibberish out like he actually watches the games.

    • jjared1101 - Apr 14, 2011 at 7:37 PM

      I saw the Corey Brerwer comment before it was deleted too. Past that, Dallas has one of the best statistical benchs in the league. And, Wes Matthews has been starting. So I can see how Portland has the better bench when they are able to use other teams players for the bench, as well as their starting 5. Good stuff….

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