Needless to say, I am very frustrated at how things have transpired in these playoffs so far for the Trailblazers. I can't help but be reminded of this clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDAq5tyfk9E
There are lots of things we can point to that the Blazers need to improve to win this series. For this post, I want to comment mostly on defense.
The Blazers got a raw deal with the refs (and horrible substitution patterns) in game 1. Both teams made some adjustments prior to game two, but comparing and contemplating each team's adjustments for game 2 is disheartening. Rick Carlisle certainly did not have to do much. Of the adjustments Dallas made on defense, the most simple and effective change they made was how they positioned their bodies against players on the high-post and/or extended baseline. They essentially eliminated all of the cheap baskets Portland got in game 1 off of back-door oops for dunks. That simple adjustment, I estimate, eliminated about 8 points or so for Portland compared to game 1.
The Blazer's big adjustment was to have Wes Matthews guard Jason Kidd instead of Andre Miller. Of course hindsight is 20/20, but this is Exhibit 1A of why our coaching staff bungled their game 2 preparation. The problem was not Andre Miller. The problem was our scheme, against the two-man game between Dirk and a red-hot Jason Kidd. I recall a stretch in game 2 where Kidd brought the ball down about 3 times in a row, where Dirk would set a high screen, and Kidd made his way around for a relatively uncontested shot. In fact, he shot us right into a timeout. The Blazers are not hedging the screen (cut off Kidd as he goes around) and he just finds an open spot to shoot from. When they do hedge, Kidd is good enough to find an open Dirk who has popped out for his 15-18 ft shot. It wouldn't matter so much if Kidd wasn't hot, but he has been so far in this series, and there is no reason to believe it won't continue.
I think if we would simply extend our defense to about 3/4 court and send a double-team towards Kidd, we could force the ball out of his hands and make another Dallas player bring it up. We have the speed, athleticism, and length to recover on defense and get back. That right there will take them out of their bread and butter pick-n-pop play. Also, players like Kidd and Peja are not a major threat to dribble and penetrate. The only thing they can really do is spot up and shoot. Like many professionals, they will hit more wide open shots than they will miss. Why we continue to gamble so much to shut Dirk down and leave them wide open is simply beyond comprehension. It makes the most sense to play Dirk straight up with Camby or Aldrige, and make it a goal to simply shut down the supporting players. The Atlanta Hawks did this with Dwight Howard the other night (43 pts) , and beat Orlando in Orlando.