Quantcast 2011 NBA Western Conference Playoffs: Round One - Dallas vs Portland

 

2011 NBA Playoff Preview – Western Conference First Round

Western Conference First Round Game 1 - Dallas 89, Portland 81 – Mavericks lead series, 1-0

 

It wasn’t pretty and it definitely wasn’t convincing, but it sure beats an early series deficit. Owner Mark Cuban and coach Rick Carlisle have a lot of sweating to do, but at least they’ll proceed with the Western Conference playoffs without facing an absolute must-win situation in Game 2 of the opening round.

Despite a field goal slump of nearly 10 minutes in the second half, the Dallas Mavericks were able to win the opening game of their series with the Portland Trail Blazers at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Saturday evening. The ability to get to the free throw line was the key, and for those aware of NBA basketball, Dirk Nowitzki is as close to automatic at the charity stripe as anyone in the league. Nowitzki scored 18 of his 28 points in the final frame, making all 13 free-throw attempts to seal the victory for the third seed in the West.

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It looked for awhile as if the Blazers were primed to steal home-court advantage with a Game 1 win. Portland forward and Dallas native LaMarcus Aldridge was simply tremendous, scoring 27 points and showing an ability to score in diverse ways. An Aldridge jumper gave Portland a five-point lead with just over seven minutes to go in the contest. With Dallas failing to hit the side of a barn, Portland eventually attained a 72-66 edge and silenced the crowd of over 20,000 Mavs fans who have been all too frequently accustomed to shocking first-round playoff loses. Cuban and the rest of the Dallas organization were surely holding their breaths. Anyone and everyone who cares about the direction of the Mavs franchise was thinking something to the effect of, “No, not again!” The vibe was all too real for Dallas, which lost as the top seed to Golden State in the opening round of the 2007 playoffs and then, last year, crashed out as the two seed in the first round against San Antonio. Portland, a trendy upset pick in this series, was smelling fresh blood, and the odds did not look good for Club Cuban.

Then, however, the tide turned.

 

 

Shockingly, Aldridge was not the focus of the Portland offense down the stretch. It cost the Blazers dearly. Portland scored just nine points in the final six minutes of regulation and only three in the last 1:50. Dallas, on the other hand, rallied. The Mavs were lifted by veteran point guard and sure-fire Hall-of-Famer Jason Kidd’s shooting ability. Kidd scored 24 points, on 6-of-10 shooting from long distance. Kidd’s last three was his biggest - it came with under a minute to play and gave the home team an 85-78 lead with just 25 ticks left on the clock. The Mavericks won despite shooting just 40 percent from the field, underscoring how poorly they played… and how much of an opportunity Portland lost on Saturday.

 

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By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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