FIFTY WINS Y'ALL. F-I-F (T-Y)
I know this game was largely meaningless, but it feels good to hit the 50-win mark again. Plus the basketball gods smiled upon MFFLs everywhere, as the Pelicans and Rockets won in order to give Dallas a matchup with Houston in the playoffs rather than yet another soul-crushing series against the Spurs.
The Mavs started off the game pretty strong. After a bit of back and forth, Dallas quickly built a double-digit lead, largely on the efforts of Tyson Chandler. Tyson finished the quarter with 11 points and 7 rebounds while really going to work on LaMarcus Aldridge.
Things kept humming along for much of the 2nd quarter. Charlie V came in and hit a couple of threes, drumming up some excitement before he should've headed back to the bench. Except he didn't. He stayed out there and played just awful defense, and before you knew it, the Blazers were back in it. Now it wouldn't be fair to blame it all on Charlie. But it's game 82, and I still want more Dwight Powell, so I'm gonna go ahead and be extra hard on Charlie.
But seriously, Dallas's defense really fell off late in the first half. Steve Blake was open from three seemingly the entire second quarter. It didn't help that Aldridge got hot. Fortunately, Dallas managed to tread water despite Portland's advances, and finished the half with a 56-51 lead. Portland actually had more rebounds and fewer turnovers, but Dallas shot 50% in the half.
Fortunately some excellent halftime entertainment got Dallas fired up. The Mavs started the half on a 15-0 run to take a 20-point lead. The offense was good. The defense was good. Dallas got steals, and fastbreaks, and pure awesomeness. Man it was fun. And Dallas really didn't let up all quarter. It was really the opposite of most Mavs third quarters. I loved it.
Dallas broke 100 points on an Amar'e putback with 7:13 left in the game. Felton, Barea, Sarge, Charlie V, and Dwight Powell finished off the game, and there still wasn't much drop off. The Mavs did a really great job of making you feel good heading into the playoffs, and they did it without Chandler Parsons and Devin Harris.
Mavs win 114-98. On to Houston.
- Tyson Chandler is the Mavericks' MVP this season. No one with a brain can argue this point. But he really showed it tonight. 22 points and 15 rebounds. 12-15 on free throws. Clutch. Can't wait to see playoff Tyson.
- Monta and Dirk both look ready for the playoffs. Dirk had 16 in 27 minutes, and Monta had 15 in 28 minutes. While neither had eye-popping stat lines, both looked really comfortable tonight, and hit shots when they needed to.
- Hopefully Chandler Parsons will be ready join Monta and Dirk to rain fire on Houston. Parsons was reportedly moving well before the game today, but sat out yet again (and looked sexy as hell while doing it, in case you were wondering). Parsons has quietly been Dallas's best offensive player the past month or so, and it will be a fantastic story if he can go off against his old team.
- With Aminu, Amar'e, Jefferson, and hopefully Devin Harris, the Mavs' bench actually looks like it is in decent shape heading into the playoffs. I've given RJ a lot of crap this season, but he's been pretty solid while Parsons has been out. Tonight he was +25, if you're into that sort of thing.
- Ray Felton has quietly made JJ Barea obsolete. He had 10 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds tonight (and did you guys SEE that buzzer beater to end the third quarter??). It'll be interesting to see how the backup guard rotation shakes out against Houston.
- Speaking of guards, Rondo continued being quietly very solid tonight. 9 points, 7 assists, and 2 rebounds, plus some good defense on Damian Lillard. How will he handle James Harden?