We thought the Dallas Mavericks were in control. After several early NBA playoff exits over the past few seasons, Dallas looked to finally be on top of their game with a 2-0 lead to start their 2011 NBA Playoff series with the Portland Trail Blazers.
However, with a 97-92 loss in Game 3, the Mavericks could be another loss away from letting this thing get away from them. Here's a look at both teams heading into tonight's Game 4:
Why the Mavericks Will Win
They're as focused and determined as we thought they were. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd lead the charge in the first two games, were a bit off in Game 3, and the home team took advantage.
If you shrug it off, it's pretty easy to assume the Mavericks will regroup and put forth their best effort in Game 4. And if they do that, there's little doubt they'll prevail.
However, certain things need to happen for the Mavericks to get to that point. Kidd needs to get back to playing great offensive basketball, while Dirk Nowitzki simply needs to be on when Portland is making a run. On top of that, if Jason Terry brings the same intensity he had in the Game 3 loss, along with Kidd and Nowitzki, Dallas could be unstoppable.
Why the Trail Blazers Will Win
They've got a ticket to some major momentum, and they have the home crowd backing them for the second straight game. Those are givens. If Portland can transfer the joy of winning Game 3 to Game 4, they may find it rather easy to even the series. However, the big thing for the Blazers could be the guy that has been relegated to a simple scorer's role off the bench, and that's Brandon Roy.
Roy hasn't been electric in this series, but he put Portland on his back in Game 3 and ended up being a difference-maker. Roy will have to do it again, while LaMarcus Aldridge needs to continue to be aggressive.
I still think Aldridge needs a really dominant game in this series before I believe in the Blazers. He's been very solid, but he hasn't completely taken over like his talent and role suggests he should. I think the other huge aspect of this matchup continues to be Portland's ability to control the tempo of the game. Being at home, it's more likely they'll have the chance to do that again. I'm going out on a limb and betting Aldridge brings it with the home crowd fueling a huge game.
Blazers 94, Mavericks 92
Feel free to follow me on Twitter, as well, @NFLSoupKevin
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!