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Mavericks’ Chandler Key Going Into Game Six
Posted By Derek Page On April 28, 2011 @ 12:30 pm In All,NBA | No Comments
After being straddled with foul trouble over the first few games of the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs, Dallas Mavericks’ center Tyson Chandler broke loose and broke out in a big way in Game Five.
Against the Portland Trail Blazers Monday night, Chandler set a career playoff-high with 20 rebounds, doing most of his damage on the offensive glass. Chandler kept possessions alive all game for Dallas, cleaning up misses and swatting tip-outs to teammates as he broke the Mavericks’ team-playoff record with 13 offensive boards.
Portland, as a team, secured just nine offensive rebounds on the night.
"Yeah, he had great activity at both ends," Mavericks’ head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. "His offensive rebounding was phenomenal—13—and contributed a lot to our second chance points. Every time he tips one out and we get it back and the crowd gets into it, it makes a huge difference. He’s been giving us great energy, but he hadn’t been able to get his scoring going; tonight he was able to do that."
Along with all those rebounds, Chandler also secured his highest scoring outing of the series due largely to his unrelenting play around the basket. The 7’1, 235 lb center reached double figures in scoring for the first time all series, scoring 14 points on just four shot attempts and getting to the line 12 times (making eight) due to his willingness to be a factor around the rim.
Defensively, Chandler has been just as stout and has seemed to impove as the series as gone on. His main defensive assignment, LaMarcus Aldridge, has gone from a 27-point beast in game one to a 12-point wall flower in Game Five thanks largely to Chandler’s defensive prowess.
Since averaging over 20 points on over 50 percent shooting in each of the first three games of the series, Aldridge has shot under 40 percent over the last two while scoring just 15 points per game. In Game Five, Chandler held the Blazers’ leading scorer to just 12 points on 40 percent shooting.
"I was just trying to be aggressive," Chandler said. "[Monday] was a big game for us and we didn’t want to go back to their place down in the series. We wanted to go up there up in the series and try to finish the job. We did whatever it took to win this game…"
With Game Six just on the docket for tonight Dallas needs Chandler’s ferocity on the court, but also needs him to remain there in order to put this series away. The Mavericks’ center averaged just 3.3 points and 7.6 rebounds while dealing with foul trouble over the first three games of the series. In Game Three at Portland, Chandler fouled out in just 15 minutes with two points and four rebounds, and that’s something he knows he can’t replicate if Dallas wants to come away with a W.
"I’ve tried to avoid fouls in any way possible and I’ve gotten fouls and I’ve even fouled out trying to avoid fouls," Chandler told ESPN Dallas’ Jeff Caplan. "It’s just really about — I’ve really been thinking about it — sticking to my principles, being aggressive. A lot of times the refs will reward the guys trying to be aggressive and play solid defense without getting the ticky-tack. I’ve been getting a lot of moving screens, getting fouls off the ball. I try to limit those so the fouls I get I’m at least being aggressive."
The Mavericks’ offseason acquisition has been pivotal in the change of mentality for this team during the regular season due to his infusion of energy and toughness. Now it’s time to see if Chandler can reign in that intensity and continue to be a force for Dallas on the court in this postseason. If he can, there may be much more in store for the Mavs than just advancing to the second round.
Tonight’s game is going to be a difficult challenge for the Mavericks, not only due to the fact that a hungry Blazers team and it’s rabid fans are waiting for them at the Rose Garden, but also due to the reality that recent Mavs’ playoff history says they won’t win this game. Dallas has won just two out of it’s last 20 playoff road contests, including a steak of eight straight losses, and both games in Portland during this series seemed to slip away as the Mavericks struggled to perform in the clutch.
"It’s time for us to go out and get this thing done," Jason Terry told ESPN Dallas’ Tim MacMahon. "We will. We’ve played well enough to win those two games. We just hadn’t done it."
An epic, 23-point collapse in their last venture away from home certainly doesn’t help the case for snapping the road skid, but anyone who’s been watching knows Dallas has outplayed Portland for the majority of this series. Now it’s time to see if this team has the intestinal fortitude to forget the ghosts of playoffs past and finish the job to advance to the second round of the playoffs for just the second time in the last five seasons.
Tip-off is scheduled for tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET and can be seen nationally on TNT.
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