The Portland Trail Blazers hope to fight off elimination by the Dallas Mavericks tonight in Game Six of their best-of-seven NBA Western Division playoff series at Portland's Rose Garden Arena. 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time, TNT.
For instance, in Game Four, the Blazers entered the fourth quarter down by 18 points (they were behind by as many as 23). But led by former Washington Huskies star Brandon Roy’s 24 points (18 of came in the fourth quarter), Portland’s perseverance stunned the Mavericks. Some have called it one of the greatest comebacks in NBA playoff history. It's only the third time since the introduction of the shot clock (57 years ago), that a team has come back to win from such a large deficit.
But Dallas (up 3-2 in the series) is a team of veterans, and in bouncing back in Game Five not only put on a defensive clinic, but grabbed back 42 percent of their missed shots, which was their second best performance of the season. The Mavericks shut down Roy – allowing him only five points in his 26 minutes, and that appeared to be a key in preventing any last-minute heroics.
And Dallas, like Portland, has a very vocal and loyal fan base, which has helped guide the Mavericks to a 29-12 regular-season record on their home floor. Portland, on the other hand, was five games under .500 away from the Rose Garden Arena. In fact, all the games in this series have been decided in favor of the home team. That' gives Portland an edge tonight.
In the first two games of the series, Dallas made an average of nine three-point shots (48 percent). And while Dallas made just 15 percent of their threes in Game Five, they won thanks to 20 offensive rebounds, 17 second-chance points, and 40 points in the paint. They also spread out their scoring much better than they had in their two losses.
In many ways these teams match up well. You've got Dallas’ scoring big-men Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler going rim-to-rim with Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace, while Dallas’ ageless Jason Kidd takes on Brandon Roy. But if you're looking for a key to tonight's game, watch Roy. Throughout the past five games, the Blazers’ fortunes have hung on the shoulders of the six-foot-six-incbh B-Roy.
If Roy has a big night, Portland wins. If he doesn’t, they lose. In Portland’s two wins, Roy has scored 20 points and made 4.5 assists per game. In their three losses, he averages 2.3 points and just under two assists. Granted there are other factors, but it would seem “home cooking” really appeals to Roy. That’s why Portland is likely to push this one out to a seventh and deciding game.