So the Mavericks played a thriller in Portland Friday night. But it wasn't a thriller like a Game 7 thriller or a March Madness thriller. It was apparently more like the basketball version of Saw, an two-hour atrocity you can't turn away from. Some gnarly missed calls killed both the Mavs and Blazers, apparently, but Dallas reacted in a more composed fashion, Dirk Nowitzki could not be stopped, and the Mavs kept pace with the Nuggets for the No. 2 seed. The Blazers find themselves in position to need to be beat the Lakers Sunday to avoid the Lakers in the first round.
Back to Dallas: Dirk scored 40 of the team's 83 points Friday. Only two other Mavs (Caron Butler with 18, Jason Terry with 12) hit double-digits. Dallas shot 33.8 percent from the floor. The Mavericks not named Dirk shot 27.6 percent. Marcus Camby had 17 defensive rebounds for the Blazers. There was some bad shooting going on!
That wasn't the case when Dallas last met Sacramento. Back in early March, the Mavericks shot 48.8 percent from the floor, with an eFG of .529. (League average is .500.) The Mavs offense just slaughtered the Kings, canceling out highly efficient 20+ point performances from each of Tyreke Evans, Beno Udrih and Carl Landry. (Those three combined for 61 points on 40 FGAs and 13 FTAs.) But Dirk was Dirk (31 points) and Rodrigue Beaubois went nuts off the bench (22 on 14 FGAs), and c'est la vie, mes amis.
The Mavericks don't rebound well on offense. But they are at least average in every other offensive or defensive "Four Factor," and quite good in shooting, turnovers, opponent turnovers, and opponent foul-drawing.
Andres Nocioni vs. Caron Butler. Butler used to shred John Salmons with his speed. Chapu is big and strong, but he's certainly not quicker than Salmons, and hence, les problems. Also, Nocioni may be summoned to meet Dirk's eyes in a small line-up, which would leave the frontcourt susceptible to Brendan Haywood Brand Domination, or at least a couple guards running unchecked to the rim. (This is all to say that matchups be damned, I want to see Landry-Thompson together most of the game.)
As a part of "The Brockprint," Mancakes will uncork a J.R. Rider Special during warm-ups, adding to the buzz of the Legend of the Dunking Nessie.
Another 7 PM PT start. Two game threads (7, 8:15) and a post-gamer (9:45). Second-to-last home game of the season. Third-to-last game overall. You'll miss Tyreke over the summer, you know you will.