The sky isn't falling after all.
Coming off a game that encapsulated the play of many Mavericks teams of the past, the Mavericks came out and showed that they were a completely different team by beating the Blazers at their own game.
The Mavericks out rebounded the Blazers 49-37. And a big reason for that was the play of Tyson Chandler. Chandler was able to stay out of foul trouble for the first tie in this series and his impact was felt on both ends of the floor. Chandler had 13 offensive rebounds- more than the entire Blazers team- on his way to a 20 rebound game. The 13 offensive rebounds were a career high and enough for a Mavericks playoff record. They were also the most in the NBA playoffs since Shaquille O'neal had 14 in 1995. The Mavericks are a completely different team when Chandler is on the floor and keeping him out of foul trouble will be key heading into game six.
Unlike game four, the Mavericks attacked the basket from the outset and reaped the benefits by heading to the free throw line 35 times. And to no one's surprise, it was Nowitzki that led the charge. Dirk spearheaded the march to the line and the rest of the Mavericks followed suit. Dirk showed emotion throughout the game, screaming after drives to the basket and as he attacked the boards. It was refreshing to see and with his jumpshot not falling in this series, it's imperative this continues in Portland. Good things happens when Dirk drives to the basket. Case and point- the Mavericks are 13-0 this season when Dirk gets to the line at least 10 tiimes. Stay aggressive, Dirk.
Jason Kidd only had four points but he controlled the game for the Mavericks on offense, dishing out 14 assists and collecting seven rebounds in the process. Kidd's jumpshot has suffered since the impressive performances in games one and two. With two days rest before game six, Kidd should be able to get his legs under him and contribute offensively for the potential series clinching win.
Shawn Marion had another astounding game. Marion contributed 14 points on offense but it was his defense that truly left its mark on the game. Marion harassed the Blazers for four steals and was able to limit Gerald Wallace to 5/11 shooting and 16 points. Marion's hustle on defense led to his production on offense, a sight Mavericks fans have become accustomed to this season.
The Mavericks limited Lamarcus Aldridge's impact for the second game in a row. Aldridge was held to 12 points on 6/15 shooting and did not get to the line once. Chandler and Haywood have made him work for everything inside and he's been forced to settle for jumpshots. A trend the Mavericks would like to continue. There were no bionic knees for Brandon Roy in this game as he shot a meek 2/7 from the field for five points. With game six in Portland, Roy will probably find a little more life in those knees and containing him will be a priority for the Mavericks.
The close out game is always the hardest to get and getting it on the road will be even harder. But I can't think of a better time to exercise those road demons than by ending this series in Portland.
Game six is Thursday night.