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Mavericks Need More Offense To Finish Trail Blazers Off

The Dallas Mavericks can close out their first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers with a victory Thursday night in Portland, but to do it, they'll need better offense from their role players than they received in their first two games at the Rose Garden, which they lost. In Game 3, a 97-92 defeat, Mavs not named Dirk Nowitzki or Jason Terry combined to shoot just 15-of-34 (44.1 percent) from the field for 38 points. Shawn Marion, a glorified safety valve on offense, ranked third on the team in scoring that night, with 9 points. In Game 4, which Portland won behind a vintage fourth-quarter performance from Brandon Roy (18 of the Blazers' 35 in the period), Nowitzki, Terry, and Marion again did most of the heavy lifting, with 45 of Dallas' points that night.

It's incumbent on the Mavs' other scorers, specifically Jason Kidd and Peja Stojakovic, to contribute more Thursday than they did in the prior defeats. Rodrigue Beaubois' absence--he's missed every game of the postseason--puts more pressure on those players to score, and while they've been up to the task in Dallas, they've come up short on the road in this series.

Roy is another factor. Knee injuries have robbed him, far too soon, of the athleticism and shot-creating ability that made him one of the league's best shooting guards two years ago, but he's come through in Portland in this series, with 40 points on 15-of-23 shooting through two games. He's enjoyed far less success in Dallas, which one might expect from a role-player, but not from one of Roy's caliber.

At all events, Kidd must also be more careful defending Andre Miller, the Blazers' point guard. He's never been a scoring threat--though he did drop an improbable 55 points on the Mavericks last season--so any offense Portland gets from him is a bonus. It's like found money. Keeping him away from the basket is the most important step: Miller is shooting 18-of-30 in the immediate basket area, but just 10-of-27 in all other areas, according to the stat-tracking service Synergy Sports Technology.

It has to comfort the Mavericks, to some degree, that they played two pretty bad offensive games in Portland and just narrowly lost both. We'll see if the team can put together a better, more balanced performance together in fairly short order.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.