Focus turns to shutting down the lane
Center Tyson Chandler consistently did not leave Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge or he helped too late, as was the case when Wesley Matthews attacked the rim and blew by Chandler on the way to laying it off the glass to cut Dallas' one-time 23-point lead to 80-72.
Not once did a Mavs player opt to put a hard foul on any of six Blazers drives in the fourth quarter. Portland outscored the Mavs 18-0 in the paint in the final 12 minutes.
"There are opportunities to take hard fouls that we have not taken advantage of and we're going to have to be more physical tonight than we were in Game 4," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "Again, it's all about playoff basketball. It's not about hurting anybody or anything like that. But, a physical series, you've got to be physical."
Chandler has gotten himself in foul trouble throughout the series, but few have come on hard fouls in the paint. In fact, Portland has been exceedingly efficient scoring inside the restricted area of the paint, converting at a whopping 70 percent, according to numbers crunched by NBA.com, when Chandler is on the floor. That percentage drops to 55 percent when he isn't.
The 70 percent figure would have led the NBA this season. Phoenix was the best at scoring inside the restricted area during the regular season at 68.7 percent, according to hoopdata.com.
Chandler is considered the difference-maker for the Mavs on the defensive end. He's had his hands full with LaMarcus Aldridge, who brings a steady diet of post moves as well as a perimeter game.
All-in-all, Chandler has done a solid job on the 6-foot-11 Blazers forward. Aldridge is 22-of-49 from the floor for 55 points in the series against Chandler. Against Haywood, Aldridge is 13-of-26 for 34 points.
But, it can be surmised that Chandler's close cover of Aldridge comes at the expense of a clear pathway to the basket.
"He's in a situation where he's guarding a big guy that steps out to 20 feet and shoots the ball," Carlisle said. "Sometimes he's gravitating a little bit away from the basket. We want his focus to be on Aldridge and when he has to move away from the basket our help has to come from different people."
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