DALLAS — Two days between games provides more than enough time for a thorough examination of what went right and what went wrong in the playoff opener for both the Mavericks and Blazers.
The Blazers need to get more easy scoring opportunities to get Gerald Wallace, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum going. The Mavericks wouldn’t mind a better start from Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, anything to crank up the energy and their home crowd in an absolutely must-have Game 2 tonight at American Airlines Center. And they cannot allow LaMarcus Aldridge to have his way with them again, particularly with all the easy baskets he gets on lobbed passes for dunks (he led the league during the regular season and had 12 points off alley-oops in Game 1).
Yet for all of the strategic tweaks that have been done since Saturday night’s series opener, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle knows better than to think Game 2 will come down to anything other than what playoff basketball always boils down to.
“Game 1 was a grinding game that was about timing, guts and will,” he said. “(Game 2) will have probably a little different personality, but the one thing that is going to be constant is the level of competition. It is going to be extremely high. The stakes are high and both teams are very capable teams.”
These are two capable as evenly matched as they appeared to be on paper before this series began. So much so that Carlisle struggled to find things to get excited about after that opening win.
“I’m encouraged we were able to win a game when we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well and didn’t play particularly well,” Carlisle said, “and I’m sure Portland is encouraged they were still close to winning the game on the road. It’s a tight series, a tight series … playoff basketball is the ultimate. You gotta love it.”