DONUT 1: The biggest question we had heading into G5 was if the Dallas Mavericks actually believe they are the better team. After watching G5? We can reasonably assume they do.
And the mood is good. Here, join us for a glance inside the Mavs' practice on get-away day. Soak it in ...
We also wondered if Portland's Lamarcus Aldridge could impose his will on the game. He couldn't ... and maybe he can't.
Often, the guy has been in the shadow of the greatness that is Dirk Nowitizki. LA has seen his scoring numbers fall in each game, going from 27 in Game 1 all the way down to 12 (on 15 attempts and no free-throws) in G5 He will need to step up tonight if Portland hopes to postpone its annual late April fishing trip How has Dallas been so successful in corralling Aldridge? Check the "Coach 'Em Up'' video in Donut 3:
Video DONUT 3:
LaMarcus was asked if Thursday's Game 6 is a "defining moment'' for him.
"No,'' Aldridge said. "I don't feel like this is a defining moment for me I'm sorry if I should. But I don't. It's a team sport … I feel like this is a defining moment for the team ''
Maybe that approach speaks volumes about who is prepared to step up and influence the outcome of the series Because it's very precious ... and of course, wrong.
DONUT 4: So how do the Mavs carry over their G5? Simply put: Don't give the opponent even a minute of hope. Dominate the pace and physicality of the game from the opening tip. Continue to crowd Aldridge and Matthews but force Wallace and Miller to hit from outside. And if a Trailblazer wants to shoot a layup? Make sure he is shooting free-throws instead, after he scrapes himself up off the floor.
The Mavs have played with 20-point leads in two straight games against this team. That, Dear Reader, is a trend.
DONUT 5: As we are all well aware, Wes Matthews "remembers" that "dirty" screen set by our very own "Custodian,'' Brian Cardinal. What does it matter, you ask? If Portland continues to apply full-court pressure (and we expect that they will) maybe sometime during the first quarter J-Kidd and a Dallas big can "plan" to run Wes into a blind screen. It'll be legal. No intent to injure. Just a creation of another "memory '' Young Wes might remember it the rest of the game, and Portland's pressure might not be nearly as aggressive going forward.
Keep those goggles fastened, son.
DONUT 6: After Dirk took only three shots in the epic fourth-quarter collapse in Game 4, we asked for "Demanding Dirk'' to step in and kick "Deferential'' Dirk out the side door. When we check out his shot chart, we see ...
The vast majority of his attempts were within 18 feet (only two were 18 or more), and two-thirds of them were inside 15 Dirk wanted the ball, and he wanted it inside, and for the most part, he was successful in getting there (also note his 11 free-throw attempts).
We also hoped the Jason Terry would return to his efficient G1 and 2 self and leave his careless shot-hunting persona behind. We check out his shot chart, and ...
While it's not as lovely as Dirk's Rembrandt, believe us when we tell you that it is a heckuva lot better than Jet's G4 painting. Game 4 saw Terry launch exactly 50 percent of his attempts from 18-plus feet, while G5 was much closer to a 60/40 ratio of inside/outside shots We would still like to see Terry attempt fewer contested 3's, but the pull-ups and lay-ups he got in G5 need to carry over.
DONUT 8: We also asked for more open 3-point looks for J-Kidd and Peja Stojakovic We didn't get as many as we'd like, but maybe quality is more important than quantity. Kidd struggled, going 0-of-5 from deep, but Peja picked up the slack hitting on two of his four attempts. Peja's 3-point output through five games now stands at a sweltering 12-of-27, good for 44 percent, while J-Kidd is still shooting a respectable 41% at 14-of-34.
Kidd's shots often come in "flow.'' Peja? We can see a few more plays being run for the "Serbian Sniper "
DONUT 9: A most important factor in tonight's tilt? Keeping a lid on the "heroic" and "uplifting" Terms of Endearment antics of Brandon Roy. In games played in Big D, Roy has been awful, contributing a total of seven points on 3-of-15 shooting with five assists and five rebounds in nearly 61 minutes of action.
Games in the Rose Garden have been an entirely different story.
At home in G3 and G4, Roy exploded for a total of 40 points on 15-of-23 shooting with nine assists and five boards. Dallas needs to remind Roy that he isn't supposed to be that good anymore ... Our impression after discussing this issue with Shawn Marion and members of the Mavs staff is that Dallas thinks a little more zone might be the way to put a lid on Roy.
Here, check out the Fish-and-'Trix 1-on-1 Video Visit for yourself:
The fact that Shawn Marion reads DB.com and finds it entertaining is a Donut for another day. Right now, we're interested in how often Dallas pulls the zone from its backpocket.
Video DONUT 10: So how to get after Roy?
Too bold to say that if Dallas negates Roy, Dallas wins tonight? Some homerism seeping in on our parts? We'll see.
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