We’re two days removed from Brandon Roy’s storming of the Bastille, and everything since still seems like an epilogue. The lack of actual game action is the most obvious reason why; with nothing more recent to obscure the memory, Roy’s Game 4 ascendancy is the last vivid element to drive the Mavs-Blazers narrative. Dallas frittered away a 23-point lead, and the players and coaches are reminded of it with every bit of glowing admiration for Roy, every SportsCenter hit, and every feature headline — as they damn well should be. The Mavs ceded to Roy the right to be the defining story of Game 4 and the entire series, and in doing so, cast themselves in a role that has been foreign given their position over the last four seasons.
As of right now, your Dallas Mavericks are the bad guys. I’ve made mention in the past (and particularly over the last two seasons) of Dallas’ potential for villainy, but this new role is something completely different; the Mavs may have been villainous by stealing emotional wins on the road or breaking opponents’ streaks, but at the moment they’re adversaries of a fundamentally shallower characterization. Against all odds, the Blazers — led by a talented, upright individual on his way to redemption following an Act 2 strife — overcame an incredible deficit over a superior team. There were reaction shots. Framed images of the scoreboard’s clock, ticking closer and closer to zero. Slow motion clips of Roy’s crossovers, drives, and jumpers underneath goosebump-inducing melodies. Game 4 was a contest of great cinematic importance, and if Roy and the Blazers were celebrating their amazing moment in the spotlight, the Mavs were necessarily the team in black, taken down by their own hubris in the face of Roy’s virtue.
Luckily, playoff series’ are so rarely defined by a single narrative arc. There are shifts abound, as the various characters involved each impact the matchup in their own way. Roy was magnificent down the stretch on Saturday, but could very well revert to being unexceptional tonight. He could fade into the background — or stick out sorely in the foreground with an inefficient, high-usage outing — and return the series to its earlier dynamic. Roy’s Game 4 performance is a necessary part of the series canon (and may endure regardless of the eventual victor), but Dallas isn’t doomed to be the capable team that fumbled away a big lead and an even bigger opportunity against a heart-warming story; now that the latest episode is complete, the Mavs have an opportunity to move on. Roy smiled and the credits rolled, and tonight’s game brings an opportunity to begin anew.