Dallas Survives Game One
You have to continue to remind yourself that we're talking about a seven-game series here.
Keep in mind, I'm saying that as much to myself as I am to you. This is why the playoffs are so different from the regular season, and why in this particular instance, it's easy to just wallow in the coulda and shouldas.
Despite not playing anywhere near their best, the Trail Blazers had a golden opportunity to walk into Dallas and take game one on Saturday night. It was there, in their grasp, and that's what will keep the coaching staff awake the next couple of nights. As they know, this stuff will eat you alive if you let it.
After coming from 10 down at halftime, the Trail Blazers battled back and had some huge things in their favor halfway through the fourth quarter. They had a six-point lead, 72-66, they had the crowd out of the game, they had momentum, and they had the ball. But, a botched fast break, where they initially had a three-on-one situation, turned into a Portland turnover. The door swung open for the Mavericks, and they stepped right through.
Clearly, it wasn't this moment alone that sunk the Blazers on this night. But, it certainly was a turning point in that circumstance. The Mavericks outscored the Blazers 23-9 after that one play, and won game one of this series 89-81.
But, rewind a little bit and you'll see where Portland lost the opportunity. The Mavericks scored a field goal at the 4:38 mark of the third quarter. It wasn't until 11 minutes later that they scored their next one. The fact that the Blazers could only muster a six-point lead, through all of that, is probably what kept them from breaking through and stealing game one in Dallas.
Going into a series there are always things that you expect to happen, and even things that statistics tell you will
happen. Really, only a few things went the way we expected them to in this game.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points, and shot 12 for 20 from the field. No surprise threre. Dirk Nowitzki had 28 points and 10 rebounds. Exactly what we expected. But, it ends there. No one expected Jason Kidd to score 24 points, and hit six three pointers. That goes very much against the numbers. Afterall, he averages only 8 points per game, and shoots just 34 percent from behind the arc. It's not that he's not capable of a big game, because we know that he is, but these numbers were unexpected. Credit goes to him there.
Before the game, we talked about keys to this game. Wesley Matthews, for whatever reason, was the guy I said had
to play well for Portland to have a chance. That wasn't especially profound, but when he shoots well, and plays well, the Trail Blazers usually win. In this game, he picked up two quick fouls and just never got into the flow. He ended just 1 for 3 shooting, played only 19 minutes, and didn't have an impact.
Gerald Wallace was the other player we spent a lot of time talking about. He was held to just 4 of 13 shooting, and didn't get involved in the flow until the second half. Brandon Roy also struggled, shooting just 1 for 7 in the game.
Marcus Camby was brilliant. He grabbed 18 rebounds, dished out five assists, and blocked two shots. I'm sure you were wondering why he wasn't in the game down the stretch. The small lineup is what Portland has been going with to finish games in the last month or so. That may not be enough to satisfy you, and I get that if that is indeed the case. With him out of the game the Blazers just don't rebound well, and that was a huge key in the fourth quarter.
There are two other areas that have to change if Portland wants to win a game in Dallas in this series- they have to shoot better than 2 for 16 from three-point range, and they have to shoot more than 13 free throws. I know that a lot of you were probably frustrated by the officiating in this game. I'm with you there. We try not to spend a lot of time whining during games, but there were some strange calls in this one, I'll grant you that.
But, the Blazers had their chances.
Now, because of the layout of this series, we'll sit in Dallas for the next three days before getting another crack in game 2. There were positives to take out of this game. The biggest one being, obviously, the Trail Blazers battled back and were in a position to win. The tough thing to take is that you never know when you're going to be in that situation again.
You hope it's in game 2, and you hope things turn out differently.
To listen to McMillan's post-game comments following game one,click here