Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 18, 2011 under xOther | 2 Comments to Read

Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: “You’ve got to love the way the playoffs move every dial back to zero. Sure, the Trail Blazers might be the deeper team in this series. They might be more talented, and they might match up in a way that could have the Mavs ending their season five or six games from now, but … make it happen, cap’ain. Go ahead and take all those well-researched “should bes,” and turn them into a win, Portland. Because while we were right to point out how much this series seems to tilt in Portland’s favor, the Blazers still had to go out and guard Dirk Nowitzki…It hurts to see Dallas more than double you up from the line, but [Nate] McMillan has to be happy with the fact that his team played the Mavericks to a near stand-off despite a middling, 100 points per 100 possessions performance. Dallas was at home, and needed Jason Kidd to hit six three-pointers to pull away. Dallas will no doubt improve upon this game, but there’s only so much improving you can do on Jason Kidd hitting six of 10 treys. And best for McMillan? Portland will improve by leaps and bounds from here on out. Or, they ‘should’ improve. It’s still on paper for Portland, at this point.”

Ben Golliver, Eye on Basketball: “The most head-scratching coaching decision of this game — and arguably of Portland’s season — came when Nate McMillan opted to play guard Brandon Roy the entire fourth quarter instead of starting guard Wesley Matthews, fellow reserve Rudy Fernandez or center Marcus Camby. Just once in the last month has Roy played more than 26 minutes — a recent home win over the Lakers — and nothing about his recent play suggests he should be playing the crunch time minutes in this series…What’s even more confusing, though, is that McMillan has almost always turned to Matthews late in games recently when the Blazers have held the lead late. Portland led 72-66 with less than six minutes to go, the perfect situation to swap Roy for Matthews to slam the door shut. Not only is Matthews a superior defender, he’s also a superior outside shooter (Matthews has shot 40.7% from deep this season while Roy has shot 33.3%). As a team, Portland shot 2-16 from deep on the night , including 1-7 in the final quarter. While Matthews struggled early with turnovers, he certainly has shown this season that he deserves more than 19 minutes and three shots. Even if McMillan decided Matthews simply didn’t have it going in the pressure-packed situation that is Game 1, he had other options. Rudy Fernandez, although not a true impact player on Saturday, had six points, two rebounds and one assist in 18 minutes. If not Fernandez, then going back to a larger lineup — with Marcus Camby in the middle — would have been another option. While that would likely have led to easier double teams and more congestion for LaMarcus Aldridge — who was excellent on the evening, finishing with 27 points and six boards — Camby, who 18 rebounds in 29 minutes, would have been a difference-maker on the boards late, as Dallas center Tyson Chandler’s four fourth-quarter rebounds were huge in extending Dallas possessions and ending Portland possessions. Really, this was about Anybody But Roy. He finished 1-7 on the evening for two points and played exactly how recent history suggested he would play: flat, over-thinking and not in tune with a flowing offensive team concept. What’s more, it was a departure from the usual rotation necessitating an adjustment from all of his teammates late in the game.”

Bradford Doolittle, Basketball Prospectus: “The Blazers got plenty of mileage from LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 27 points in 40:39 despite foul trouble. In fact, the Blazers’ bigs had a big night, as Marcus Camby grabbed 18 rebounds in 29:02 and handed out five assists. However, Camby was absent down the stretch, getting just 1:16 in the final period while Nowitzki went to town. For that matter, Wesley Matthews, one of Portland’s crunch performers this season, played just 25 seconds in the final period. Meanwhile, the ghost acting the part of Brandon Roy played all but one second of the fourth quarter. Roy went scoreless in the period and scored just two points on 1-of-7 shooting in 26:22 for the game. If you’re scratching your head on that one, join the club.”

Ian Thomsen, SI.com: “The unlikeliest shooter of all was Kidd, who made 34 percent of his threes this season. He clobbered Portland by going 6-of-10 from that distance for the bulk of his 24 points in what Dallas coach Rick Carlisle called ‘the game of the year” for Kidd. A week of rest not only strengthened his legs, but gave him time to improve his shooting technique based on advice from Nowitzki. ‘I worked on pointing my fingers [on the follow-through] and on getting the ball up.’ Kidd said. ‘Dirk talked to me about that, and he seems to have done pretty well with it, so I just thought I would try it.’ The improvement helped Kidd improve his aim. “You notice the good shooters like Dirk usually aren’t off to the right or left,” said Kidd. “If they’re going to miss, it’s going to be short or long.’”

Tim MacMahon, ESPN Dallas: “‘When we come in with that second unit, they’re going to post us up,’ Terry said. ‘There’s no secret about that. That is their advantage. They have guards that are bigger than us. We just have to do a better job of playing them without fouling them.’ Terry picked up two quick fouls in the second quarter, which caused Rick Carlisle to pull the sixth man. But Terry did a terrific job the rest of the game on the 6-foot-6, 211-pound Roy, who finished with only two points on 1-of-7 shooting. Terry, who gives up about four inches and 35 pounds to his fellow Seattle native, battled Roy to prevent him from setting up on the block. On one possession, Terry forced Roy to catch the ball about 18 feet from the bucket. With the shot clock running down, Roy had to jack up a long jumper that failed to catch rim. ‘They only went at him two or three times, but I just tried to use my speed and quickness,’ Terry said. ‘I had great help behind me. That was big.’”

Dave, Blazersedge: “You also saw tonight in the deciding minutes the difference between playoff experience and less playoff experience.  The Blazers have talent.  The Mavericks had poise and control.  Nowitzki, Kidd, Terry, even Shawn Marion somewhat…they all looked like they knew what they were doing in those final six minutes.  The Blazers were back to hoping on offense and reaching on defense.  Surety beat hope, as it almost always does.  Dallas looked discouraged but at no time did they panic.  The Blazers looked panicky at the front and back ends of this game with some excellent play in the middle.  That won’t get it done.”

Jeff Caplan, ESPN Dallas: “‘We’ll continue to do what we were doing, continue to be aggressive and attack the basket,’ McMillan said Sunday. ‘That’s the game plan for us and for Dallas. They were rewarded with getting to the free throw line. Hopefully on Tuesday, we’ll get there.’ That’s what coaches do when the calls go all lopsided. They complain and hope the next game things even out, or even tilt the other way. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle seemed to take exception to the notion that bellyaching will somehow turn the tables. ‘You’re asking me if I think the coach’s comments are going to influence the officials?’ Carlisle questioned. ‘I believe the officials are going to make every effort to make the calls that are there. I said it the other day, our officials are the best officials in sports and they have the toughest job. Our job is to make sure we’re as aggressive as possible and that we play our game as well as we can.’”

  • Wkf04a

    Why doesn't the national media realize that this Portland team is just a younger, less experienced, worse version of these Mavericks?

  • brad

    Portland a deeper team than Dallas? More talented? Let's look at the numbers – Wins: Dallas, PPG: Dallas, Rebounds: Dallas, Assists: Dallas, FG%: Dallas, 3P%: Dallas. What “well-researched” numbers are YOU talking about?? Seriously Kelly, it must be hard to breathe with your head so far up there.