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Game 2: Blazers vs. Mavericks

First off, let me just say that the Blazers did not play like they wanted to win that game last night.  There was a distinct difference between their effort on Saturday and yesterday.  Saturday can be chalked up to questionable officiating, but that's to should be expected; Dirk frequently gets the benefit of the doubt and he has earned it.  But last night?  The Blazers laid an absolute egg in the second half.  And unless they want to lose this series in five games, they need to make some adjustments.  Fast.

  • Way too many isolation possessions last night.  Yes, we had mismatches.  Yes, Wesley Matthews is much bigger than Jason Kidd.  No, Matthews does not have any post moves and even though there is a height difference, that is probably not the best matchup to try and exploit.  I would rather have Aldridge take it at Haywood or Chandler than Matthews or Batum on Kidd.  The biggest difference between the offense in the first and second half was exactly that.  A Blazers possession consisted of coming down, clearing out one side, feeding a one on one post mathcup, generally resulting in a miss.  In the first half, the Blazers looked sharp.  They made their cuts, hit their passes and got easy buckets.  Hence the two point lead at the half.  The Blazers cannot afford to go stagnant again like that.
  • If the Blazers do want to try and exploit isolation matchups, it must be exclusively through Aldridge.  Create a high-low game and keep the shooters moving around the outside.  Aldridge is the most dangerous Blazer on the floor by far, requiring a double team in the low post.  If the Mavs bring that double team, swing the ball around the perimeter and get an open shot.  If they don't, Aldridge has been feasting on single teams in the low post.  Keep feeding the beast and keep the shooters moving.  Don't let anyone stand still.
  • I have never seen a team run worse pick and roll defense than the Blazers.  And that has been the case ever since Nate has been the head coach.  If you are going to have your guards try to climb over the top of picks (which I agree should be done), make sure that the big man hedges the screen, giving the guard a chance pick his man back up.  How hard is that?  But the Blazers seem incapable of doing this.  If they go over the screen, the big man stays down and Kidd and Peja rain threes on us.  If the big man comes up, we switch the screen and Drik destroys Miller or Matthews.  Isn't defending the pick and roll one of the first things people learn in elementary basketball?
  • Make free throws.  18-27 just will not cut it.  The Blazers shoot a little less than 80% from the line on the year.   Until the last two minutes, the Blazers hovered around a deficit of four to seven points.  Assuming they shoot closer to their percentage and make 21-27, that lead is significantly more surmountable.  But, miss those free throws and that lead is just a little bigger, creating a little more urgency.
  •  Patty Mills should not see the court in a playoff series.  I would rather see Miller play 40 minutes a game than see him running the point.  Give his extra minutes to Rudy.  But don't let Mills lead this charge.

Unless the Mavs channel their 2006 spirit, Blazers in six won't happen.  The Blazers need to come out and win handily to capture some of the momentum.  If they don't, Dallas could steal a game in Portland and then have two chances to close out the series in Dallas.  Not that they would need it.  But right now it looks like this will be the 7th straight first round exit the Blazers see.


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