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NBA Playoffs: Mavericks and Blazers wrestle for control

Apr 19, 2011, 4:30 PM EDT

Portland Trail Blazers v Dallas Mavericks - Game One

Throw out the term “pivotal” in this series. Get the phrase “must-win” out of your head. They have no place here. The Mavericks can take the game Tuesday and Game 3 and nothing will be assured. There’s too much volatility in this series. The Mavericks have perimeter acuity. The Blazers have much stronger post play. The Mavericks have the best player in the series. The Blazers have a swarm of wings. The Mavericks run the break exceptionally well. The Blazers defend like madness. We saw all that in Game 1, some arguable officiating, and a whole fury of runs.

So as Game 2 strikes up in Dallas, the question becomes which side will tip.  In Game 1, the Mavericks’ got a super shooting performance from Jason Kidd to tip the scales in Dallas’ favor. But the Blazers made long runs with the play of LaMarcus Aldridge, who the Mavericks can’t defend. The Blazers held leads in the first and fourth quarter. But Dirk Nowitzki matched Aldridge, dropping 16 points in the fourth quarter. The Blazers defended him tough on a lot of the shots. But that’s what Dirk Nowitzki does.

Jose Juan Barea played 19.2 minutes and was -9. And his heavy rotation at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter was only one part of the bizarre rotation decisions from coach Rick Carlisle in Game 1. Carlisle played a long stretch with a lineup with Barea, Terry, Peja Stojakovic and Shawn Marion. It resulted in a long, successful run from the Blazers. It also gave Dallas’ starters a long rest they used to bury the Blazers over the final six minutes.

Gerald Wallace was limited in Game 1. Eight points on 13 shots, five rebounds, one assist. That’s not a very Crash-like performance. The Blazers need Wallace in particular because of the Mavericks’ weakness at wing. Shawn Marion outplayed Wallace in the “versatile forward that jumps a lot” department. That’s up there with Jason Kidd outplaying Andre Miller in the “old man that makes you wonder just how he’s still managing to be effective in any reasonable capacity” department for things the Blazers can’t survive in Game 2.

Game 1 was a slow, methodical affair between two veteran playoff teams. Expect more of that until one team gets four wins. And until one team does that, you need to consider this the first-round series most in flux.

  1. delius1967 - Apr 19, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    This post is nonsense. The Mavericks as a team played about as poorly as I’ve seen them play all season, and still won the game. The Spurs and Lakers actually LOSE on their homecourt, but it is still “no worries”. What gives?

    And don’t give me that the Mavs have lost three of their last four first round series. The Blazers have lost their last FIVE first-round series. If anyone should be worried on that score, it is Portland fans.

    • hardscramble - Apr 19, 2011 at 5:23 PM

      I have to admit that delius has a point about the clubs respective first round histories.
      Nevertheless, Portland runs away with this series if the refs call it the same on both ends. The thing is that they probably won’t. Ex-MVPs get calls that All-Star snubs do not. It’s sad but true. It’s the NBA. So, Mr. Moore is probably right. It’s a toss up.

  2. goforthanddie - Apr 19, 2011 at 11:23 PM

    Comparing playoff histories is pointless. So is playing this series, if the refs don’t call it fairly.
    Having said that, Portland has the talent to go very far. We’ll see if they have the consistency and coaching to match.

  3. fordman84 - Apr 20, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    Game was called fair, and the Fail Blazers lost even worse. What is Nate going to blame it on this time?

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