Trail Blazers vs. Mavericks: Game 72 Preview
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 03/25/2010 2:33 PM

     After a three day layoff, Portland (42-29) heads home for a quick one-game stay against a team they have had surprisingly great success against this season, the Dallas Mavericks (47-24). After being swept last season, 3-0, Portland has accomplished something no one thought possible, winning twice in American Airlines Center and doing so under the most improbable conditions. The first victory, 85-81, occurred two weeks after Greg Oden went down with a broken kneecap and in the 2nd quarter, Portland saw their rock, Joel Przybilla go down with a similar, yet much more devastating injury. To prove the win in December was no fluke, the Trail Blazers pulled an even bigger rabbit out of their hat by dethroning Dallas again, this time in overtime, 114-112, behind 52 points from Andre Miller. Oh, yeah, the Blazers pulled this miracle off without Brandon Roy as well as not having the two big centers inside either. Will the Cinderella run continue tonight against Dallas or will another long break between games get the best of the Blazers again?

    Although Portland defeated Dallas twice already this year, you may almost want to throw that out the window this time around. Both teams brought in entirely different personnel since the last meeting in January and its safe to say both teams are significantly better, whether it be through trades, health, or any other factor. Dallas robbed Washington in acquiring Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood, while Portland obtained Camby and now have a roster full of healthy players, including Brandon Roy. In a sense, this is the first matchup between Dallas and Portland this season and will go a long way to seeing how we truly line up against the Mavs if we end up facing each other in the playoffs. Right now Dallas is 2nd and with a win, Portland moves into 7th. If the Blazers can somehow win these upcoming two games at home against the Mavericks, there should be no reason why Portland should not be favored to beat them in a playoff series.

    If the Trail Blazers are serious about catching some of these teams above them, they need to show it tonight. Lay it all on the floor. Although the defense was pretty good against the Suns, too many times did I see Amare rip a rebound away from one of our guys or Robin Lopez out-hustle someone and come away with the board. Dallas, although a lock for the playoffs, if fighting for their lives as well. They are in a virtual dead heat for 2nd place in the West with Denver and Utah, and obtaining home court throughout the 1st two rounds of the playoffs is a immensely important. Dallas needs this win just as much as we do and if we don't come out aggressive, they'll come into our house and take it right out of our hands. I'm not singling out any one player, coach, or member of the organization. Everyone needs to play with a little desperation tonight.

    Brandon Roy. I don't think there is a bigger key to the game tonight than #7. Anyone notice lately how badly we struggle when he is off his game and how much easier he makes the game for everyone else when he is his normal Roy-Wonder self? Take a look at the Trail Blazers 7-2 mark in March, where in Portland wins, Brandon averages 24.1 points, shoots 46.2% from the field (55-119), gets to the foul line 9 times a night, and only attempts 3.1 three-point attempts. On the flip side, during the two losses in that span to the Nuggets and the Suns, B-Roy tallied a mere 17.5 points on a very un-Roy like 28.2% (11-39), only manages 7 trips to the charity stripe, while shooting 4.5 threes.

    There are a couple conclusions derived from these statistics. First, only one team above .500 was defeated in the nine-game sample (Memphis), and when the competition heated up, Roy played his worst. Now, I wouldn't shoulder Roy with all the blame, as teams have been known to pack in on Roy, sending double teams at him constantly, forcing his teammates to step up. Basketball is a team game, so we can give Roy a little pass there, but what is a little unnerving is the fact that when Roy performs poorly, the foul shot attempts go down while three-point field goals jacked up increase. What Brandon needs to do to take the next step in his game is to find a way to the line, no matter how poorly he is shooting on the night. Guys like LeBron, Wade, and Kobe always find ways to put pressure on the D, even if their shot has temporarily abandoned them for the night. For Portland to walk away victorious, Roy needs to get to the charity stripe 10+ times, score around his average, but do so efficiently. It is a Thursday night on TNT, so chances are The Natural will be out in full force tonight.

    Outside of Roy doing what he does, there is no magical stat barrier the Blazers need to reach in order to get win #43. They just need to play tough, out-physical the Mavericks, even a few hard fouls by Juwan would help, and force the action inside. Obviously, we have to hit better than 2-17 from I-5 to ensure the Mavs don't pack the paint and beg us to shoot from the perimeter, but any chance we get to run, go! I'm going to go the optimistic route tonight and say the rust won't hinder the Blazers too badly and the Rose Garden crowd will be quick to forget the last team appearance on Friday. Portland fights tooth and nail with Dallas, but Nico will once again harass Dirk on those tough, fade away jump shots while Brandon will have an answer every time down to the floor for the Mavericks. It's Brandon Roy, TNT Thursday night, how can you not think he won't impress?

    Game 72 Prediction: Trail Blazers 101 Mavericks 97
    Trail Blazers/Mavericks Game 72 Pre-Game Thoughts
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