Thursday, April 28, 2011
Battle of benches could decide Game 6
By Jeff Caplan
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Dallas Mavericks have relied on bench scoring all season. That hasn't changed in this series and bench play stands to be a significant factor in tonight's Game 6.
"You can almost say it's the battle of the benches," said Mavs sixth-man Jason Terry, who is coming off a 20-point Game 5. "Whichever one comes to perform will win the game. I can see that playing out. We have to come to play."
Winning the bench battle doesn't guarantee winning the game. The Mavs' 48-23 advantage in Game 3 didn't produce a W. Overall, the Mavs hold the definitive advantage when the second units go head-to-head. Dallas' reserves have scored 172 points compared to 111 for the Blazers. Coach Rick Carlisle has mostly used a four-man bench with Terry and Jose Juan Barea, Peja Stojakovic at small forward and center Brendan Haywood.
But, the Blazers' bench has taken advantage at times when Kidd takes a seat. Portland has a decisive size advantage in the backcourt when Dallas goes to Terry and/or Barea and both have been hurt defensively on post-ups. The Blazers' bench, led by Brandon Roy, has performed better at home, scoring 54 points compared to 57 points in three games in Dallas. Roy, who has had increased help from Nicolas Batum and no help from the struggling Rudy Fernandez, has scored 40 points in Portland and just seven in Dallas.
One of the keys tonight for the Mavs' bench is to limit any Portland runs to keep the Rose Garden crowd at bay.
"We've got to be focused from the very beginning," said Stojakovic, who is 12-of-27 from 3-point range in the series. "You have to take them [the crowd] when you're the road team. The home team is going to make runs and the sooner you stop that the better."