Inside Report: No. 6 Blazers vs. No. 3 Mavericks — Game 1 preview
Inside Report: No. 6 Blazers vs. No. 3 Mavericks — Game 1 preview
Earl K. Sneed previews Game 1 of the Mavericks' opening-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers, as sixth man Jason Terry and center Tyson Chandler try to lead Dallas to the second round.
DALLAS — Jason Terry has been waiting for this day since the Mavericks suffered a Game 6 defeat to the San Antonio Spurs to fall in the first round last season. It’s a day for redemption.
After not living up to his own standards in the postseason a year ago, in a series where his 16.6 points per game scoring average for the season dropped to just 12.7 in six games, Terry hopes to redeem himself with a big series against the sixth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers beginning with a key performance in Game 1 on Saturday night at the American Airlines Center. And with the No. 3 seed Mavericks also hoping to prove their skeptics wrong, with many doubters expecting to see the Dallas squad upset in the first round for the second straight season, Terry believes that he can be the X-factor that carries his team to the next round.
“I’m feeling good, just excited and anxious to get this thing started off,” Terry said after his team’s Friday practice and final tune-up for the Blazers.
“I feel like I have a lot to prove. I know it’s a team game, but for me personally, going into last summer I was real disappointed with how we ended up and I put a lot on my shoulders,” he added. “Again, this is what we prepare for, and I know I’m ready and I know my teammates are. Just to prove that I’m a great player in the postseason. It’s something that I always take pride in. It’s kind of like the fourth quarter to me. You know, fourth quarter, you know I’m gonna show up, same thing in the playoffs.”
The Mavericks’ home-court advantage could play a significant role in the series, after both squads snatched a pair of victories in their own friendly confines over the other team to tie the four-game season series. And with Terry primed and ready to make a statement in the series right away, the Mavericks hope to grab an early edge with a dominant performance that could resonate through the rest of the best-of-seven matchup.
“This is a new year and, again, we’re going game by game. Game 1 is very important. You’re at home and you want to take care of your home-court advantage,” Terry explained. “It’s big. Obviously, we know what we’re capable of doing at home, and on the road we’re even better. So, again, we’re just excited. And Game 1 is always exciting because there are nerves and a lot of jitters, but there’s also gonna be some anxiousness to get out there and get after it.”
But in order for the Mavericks to outsprint the Blazers to four wins in the series, they must first do just that: sprint.
The Blazers, who ranked seventh in the regular season while surrendering just 94.8 points a game, also have their own problems putting the ball in the basket due to their mundane style, scoring just 96.3 points at the other end. And despite ranking just 27th in rebounding, pulling down 39.3 a night, the Blazers still pose a threat on the glass behind their potent frontline of LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby and the versatile Gerald Wallace.
That means that in order for the Mavericks to be at their best, running and gunning to fast-breaking opportunities, they must not only win the battle on the boards but also keep the Blazers from slowing the pace down with Portland’s halfcourt sets. And according to Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, his team’s ability to do just that — creating a way for point guard Jason Kidd to lead the team to transition scoring opportunities — will be the key to the entire series.
“Possession of the ball is always key and rebounding is a major factor, because those are opportunities you have that they don’t have and vica versa,” Carlisle explained. “And then being efficient with the ball on offense is key, because when you avoid turnovers you avoid a lot of situations where they become undefendable, and a lot of turnovers lead directly to fast-break points. So, the key for us is to be able to play out of our flow game effectively without the miscues. And when we do that we play a very good game.”
“We can’t take the ball out and try to speed the game up,” forward Dirk Nowitzki added. “We’ve gotta get some stops, rotate for each other and scramble like we did in the second half against New Orleans. And then hopefully speed the game up, but they’re very good in transition defense … so we’ll see if we can get some stops, get the ball to J-Kidd and start running.”
As Nowitzki mentioned, the Mavericks will be looking to build off their second half in the regular-season finale against the Hornets, when the Dallas defense held New Orleans to just 28 points in the final 24 minutes of play en route to a 121-89 win on Wednesday night. And with the team’s defensive anchor, center Tyson Chandler, out to prove a point much like Terry, the Mavericks hope to carry that same intensity over to the first game of the playoffs, looking to rely on the 7-footer to carry them past Aldridge — who averaged 27.8 points and 9.0 rebounds against Dallas this season — and the Blazers.
“[Aldridge] has certainly taken his game to another level and it’s our job to slow him down. That’s what I’m here for. You’ve gotta take on those challenges,” Chandler confessed. “These are the types of matchups that you look forward to. You know that you’ve got to slow him down for your team to move on, so that’s what we have to do.”
Note: The Mavericks and Blazers split their season series 2-2, with Portland winning the final two showdowns at the Rose Garden. Game 1 of the opening-round matchup will tip off at 8:30 p.m. CT, airing nationally on ESPN and locally on TXA 21. Great seats are still available and tickets can be purchased by visiting the American Airlines Center box office, logging on to Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287).
The first-round series between the two teams continues as follows:
Game 2 - Tues. April 19 Portland at Dallas 8:30 p.m. CT TXA 21/TNT
Game 3 - Thurs. April 21 Dallas at Portland 9:30 p.m. CT TXA 21/TNT
Game 4 - Sat. April 23 Dallas at Portland 4:00 p.m. CT TXA 21/ TNT
Game 5 * Mon April 25 Portland at Dallas TBD TBD TBD
Game 6 * Thu April 28 Dallas at Portland TBD TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sat April 30 Portland at Dallas TBD TBD TNT
Single-game tickets for the first two Mavs home games of the First Round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs are now on sale. Fans that purchase single-game tickets will receive a commemorative 2011 Mavs Playoff ticket*, which will allow the fans to experience augmented reality, a new technology that will bring the ticket to life with animated Mavs players including Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry. Game day and commemorative tickets will go live when the 2011 Playoffs begin.
Tickets will be available online at mavs.com, via phone (214-747-6287 or 1-800-4NBA-TIX) and the American Airlines Center® North Box Office**. Ticket prices start at $15 and up and there is an eight ticket limit per game. Tickets are also sold at all Ticketmaster outlets (Fiesta Grocery Stores, Simon Mall in Garland and Shops at Willow Bend).
Fans that purchase single game tickets at the American Airlines Center® North Box Office will receive their commemorative ticket at that time. For those purchasing online or at a Ticketmaster outlet, commemorative tickets will be available to pick up at the American Airlines Center® North Box Office or on Playoff game nights at the Mavs ticket sales table on the main concourse near the North Box Office. Augmented Reality is available only on Android phones. For more information, go to http://www.nba.com/mavericks/ar/ar.html.
Individual game tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased at the American Airlines Center box office, on Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287). Get in on the action and be there for all the thrills!
Fans can visit Mavs.com or call 214.747.MAVS for more information and a complete listing of regular-season home games.