*If Jason Kidd keeps shooting like he has, it’s bad news bears for Portland’s defense. It feels like he’s made every shot, but I was slightly surprised to see his series 3-point percentage is “just” 48.3% (14/29). That being said, in his last three seasons he has shot it 39% from deep, and just 34% this past year. The Blazers switch screens a lot which might leave him open more, but he was only 28.6% (4/14) during the regular season against Portland. There’s nothing to indicate that Kidd has magically become a 50% three-point shooter, so please start missing. Thanks.
*Roy has strung together a couple impressive games, showing flashes of his former self. The last two games he shot 15/23 from the floor, with a 75% True Shooting Percentage. Like Kidd, he likely won’t be able to keep those numbers up, but there are other reasons to be encouraged. On Saturday he was getting his shoulders around whichever Mav tried guarding him, enabling him to do a number of things offensively. He finished at the rim, he stepped back for jumpers, he kicked to open teammates when help came…it was beautiful. Roy has always been known as an efficient player, and we got to see that in the Rose Garden this last week. To go along with those blistering shooting numbers, he turned the ball over just twice versus 9 assists. Oh right, and he virtually saved the series for now.
*Though Dirk is shooting just 41% from the floor in the series, he’s killing Portland at the line. His free-throw shooting brings his True Shooting Percentage up to 54%. As long as the Blazers keep switching nearly every on-ball screen, Dirk will keep getting mismatches and free throws. I’m interested to see if the Blazers try to adjust their strategy. Because of the ridiculous defensive rules in the NBA, it’s much harder for other Blazers to help out when Kidd and Nowitzki play a two-man game. The best alternative to switching is for Dirk’s defender to help out for a second on Kidd, so he can’t come off the screen and pull up, and then instantly get back to Dirk. Nowitzki does not Karl Malone the roll, if you will, and instead settles for the jumper a lot more often. Aldridge and Camby have length and quickness, which might allow them to get back to Dirk quick enough to bother the shot. Is there a perfect way to guard good offense? No.
*The Blazers have had a lot of success taking advantage of mismatches (when they chose to). They should post up J.J. Barea every possession he’s in the game, and make the Mavs pay for employing that little bitch as their backup point guard. Dallas can’t afford to keep Barea out the whole game (Kidd’s foul trouble, fatigue, etc.), so we need to make sure they can’t afford to have Barea in the game either.
Game time 5:30 Pacific Standard Time.