It was bad. No two ways about it. Monday’s 93-82 loss in Dallas was even worse than the score suggests.
“We didn’t play well tonight,” McMillan said, a bit candidly. “We didn’t deserve to win. They outplayed us.”
In a lot of ways, Game 5 felt a lot like Game 4—minus Roy’s fourth-quarter out-of-body experience.
Again at the half the two teams were neck and neck. Dallas then came out with a whopping third quarter run as the Blazers offense suffered another complete meltdown. Indeed, as Rick Carlisle said after the miracle Game 4 comeback, the Mavericks felt otherwise good about their defense.
LaMarcus Aldridge’s early scoring is no longer a given. Tyson Chandler’s physical play has rocked Portland’s foundation for two-straight games. And when Aldridge can’t get establish a presence down low the Blazers’ offense sputters into a mess of shot clock beating flails, Andre Miller bailouts and missed three-pointers.
Where Dallas previously failed to account for Roy’s potential insurgence, Monday they were focused and ready. Double-teams came, but moreover the Mavericks’ zone absolutely crippled the Trail Blazers’ ability to get good looks. Dallas has again put the onus on Portland’s wing-players, Rudy Fernandez, Nicolas Batum, and to a slighter degree, Gerald Wallace. Together, the group just isn’t pulling its share of the offense. They need to score.
For Dallas, Tyson Chandler was phenomenal. More than just iron clamps on LaMarcus Aldridge, the fiery center scooped up an astounding 13 offensive rebounds, good for a franchise playoff record. Chandler finished with 14 points to go along with his game-high 20 boards.
I could go on with numbers—like Dallas’ whopping trips to the line, Jason Kidd’s 14 assists, Marcus Camby’s fouls to name a few—but what Monday’s loss in Dallas really hinged on was the Blazers inability to execute their offense and make shots against the Mavericks’ zone.
Coach McMillan said that if the Blazers would’ve broken it quickly by hitting a shot or two from deep early, Dallas would’ve retracted the zone. Instead, he said, “they felt it was disrupting us and they stayed with it.”
Indeed, there was no momentum gained by Portland’s historic Game 4 comeback.
And still, either team has yet to win on the other’s home court.