By Scott Spangler
A thing of beauty, it was not. The Dallas Mavericks suffered through an 11-minute second-half drought only to emerge an eight-point winner over the Portland Trail Blazers. For a stretch there, we could have been watching Butler hurl tire irons in the National Championship Game.
Then came the Maverick parade to the foul line, and a couple timely yet unlikely Jason Kidd jumpers – off the dribble. This is not to suggest Kidd cannot knock down an open look, but usually those are of the set-shot variety.
There was some mention today out of the Portland camp that the wide-open opportunities by Kidd must be eliminated.
Believe what you like, but Blazers guard Andre Miller will not be playing the Maverick PG straight up. No one does. Nate McMillan will do what Gregg Popovich did last year against Dallas. Cut Kidd lose and live with the consequences.
Portland will look for Wesley Matthews and Gerald Wallace to get on track. Wallace logged 39 minutes and was little more than a warm body on the floor. Matthews took only three shots, made one, and never looked comfortable.
Andre Miller did enjoy a solid shooting night, but Dallas was all too happy to watch him launch 20-footers against the shot clock late Saturday.
All that said, the Trail Blazers plan to force the issue in Game Two. Nate McMillan talked Monday about Dallas packing the paint and daring his club to take perimeter shots.
Portland wants to make Dallas pay for playing straight up. To do that, Matthews has to bring more to the party than 1 for 3 shooting.