Saturday night's Game 4 between the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks was all about Brandon Roy. The lead-up to Monday's Game 5, though, has been all about the Dallas Mavericks. How will they respond to blowing a 23-point lead and letting Roy score at will on them down the stretch? Will the ghosts of past playoff collapses continue to haunt Dirk Nowitzki and company?
We'll find out for sure at 8 p.m. on NBATV. But in a rush to paint a clear storyline, we're forgetting that Game 4 probably won't have much to do with Game 5. The Blazers can't possibly count on another performance like that out of Roy, not without the home court to lift him. Conversely, the Mavericks probably can't count on the Blazers' abysmal shooting for most of the game, so Game 4 was really just a bunch of anomalies coming together.
We then have to try to find trends from Games 1-3 to figure this one out. In Games 1 and 2, the Mavericks were just too strong down the stretch. In Game 3, it was Portland that was able to execute and make the necessary plays to win. Game 5 is back in Dallas, so that would seem to favor the Mavericks. But of course, little in this series has made sense.
The Mavericks need to continue to do a good job of defending the Blazers on the three-point line. However, they'll have to also supplement that with better defense in the paint. In particular, Tyson Chandler needs to pick up his play. According to NBA.com's StatsCube, the Blazers are shooting 70 percent at the rim with Chandler in the game. With Portland's three-point shooting so inconsistent, it's imperative for Dallas to also prevent easy looks at the rim.