‘Picking' a fight: We covered this in Mavs Donuts already this morning, but the story had legs, so let's do it again, briefly:
Late in the Dallas' Mavericks' 93-82 blowout win over Portland on Monday, Patty Mills came off the Blazers bench and kept full-court-pressing Dallas ballhandler JJ Barea. Nothing wrong with that; the Portland scrub wanted to go hard – and to follow a pressing gameplan that both teams used all night.
The counter to that strategy – also used all night – was the setting of a backcourt or midcourt pick as a way of freeing the ballhandler. Assorted Mavs, including DeShawn Stevenson and Barea found themselves having to guard their men while dancing out of the way of a Portland screen.
So Patty is guarding JJB. Brian Cardinal set a screen. Here comes contact and there goes Mills. … and Wesley Matthews of the Blazers jumps off the bench to confront Cardinal … and then DeShawn comes over to confront Matthews …
And a day later, the TrailBitchers are still complaining … about a legal tactic … that they themselves utilized throughout the game.
"Pick on the little bro and deal with the rest of the family," Mills tweeted, failing to realize that part of the blame for the play goes to his own "family'' – because some other Blazer should've called out the screen … or the Blazers coaching staff should've called off the dogs.
Think of it like football: I'm winning in a blowout. You choose to go for it on fourth down and your QB drops to pass. Fine. I'm blitzing – and I'm going to sack your QB.
You don't want me to blitz? Don't go for it on fourth down.
Mills played hard to the final buzzer. Cardinal did the same.
Move along, Trailbitchers. There's nothing to see here.
Fourth Quarter Trump Card: In the playoffs, the team that closes the fourth quarter the strongest will generally have the best chance to win the game. That's no different in this series, as the best team in the final frame has won all the games. It's no secret, and Dirk notes that.
"The team that's dominated the fourth quarter has been winning every game," Dirk said. "In Game 3 and Game 4 they were really good up there in the fourth quarters and we weren't so sharp."
We guess you could describe Game 3 that way, Dirk, but we've moved on from it after the win on Monday and so have you, right?
The Closer(s): The toughest thing to do in a playoff series is to end it. In an elimination game the potentially soon-to-be eliminated team can be expected to leave it all on the floor and you can fully assume that kind of behavior from Portland, especially while playing on their home floor.
How do the Mavs plan to combat that?
"We're gonna have to be very efficient," Coach Carlisle said.
Oh, is that it?
"We're gonna have to continue to do a good job on the boards," Rick added.
Well, we're gonna hold you to that, Rick.
We're also gonna show y'all special All-Access cats the rest of Rick's CoachSpeak.
We'll do more on this in the Wednesday Morning Mavs Donuts, but let us take Rick's word for something for the moment:
"Our energy and the building's energy was great," Carlisle said.
And now we'll add: We were there at the AAC, as we are for Mavericks games about 50 times a year. It was a good, loud energetic vibe. No, everyone didn't wear the same color t-shirt. And no, nobody threw a projectile into the face of the Blazers owner, either.
But the building's energy was a positive. Make fun of it if you will, but the Blazers are 0-3 in this building. They're not laughing.
The Final Word: "It doesn't matter to me. I've played, what, a total of two minutes in this series. If they're worried about me and my screens ..." – Brian Cardinal.