I owe Brandon Roy an apology. Perhaps a muffin basket. The Portland Trail Blazers' weak-kneed former All-Star has been a vacant husk of his former self all season long, and I've been there—reluctantly at first, not so much in recent weeks—to point out his fading offensive game, his egregious inability to play defense, and his tear-streamed face as he bemoaned his evaporating playing team in front of the media. It's an awkward precipice when a young athlete's body deteriorates so rapidly, and while Roy is clearly still fumbling in the dark for what he physically can and can't do on the hardwood, Roy had simply become a liability for a franchise he once proudly ruled over.
Yet last Saturday—to the surprise of everyone in the Rose Garden, players and fans alike—Roy salvaged his shipwrecked team in dramatic fashion. (The only thing missing was him floating everyone to safety on a raft made of Greg Oden's broken dreams.) After being pinned beneath a 23-point deficit, and then an 18-point disadvantage in the final quarter, Portland rallied for an 84-82 victory. Roy, who dropped a remarkable 18 points in the final dozen minutes to carry Portland to a series-tying win, penned another chapter of heroics.
Simply put, it was the most remarkable performance I have ever witnessed in that building.
While there was talk that Roy's valiant effort might alter the playoff momentum, it wasn't to be. On Monday, the Blazers returned to Dallas with a knotted series, but an uninspired second half from Portland resulted in a 93-82 Mavs win. Roy came tumbling back down to earth, Tyson Chandler dominated under the basket, Dirk Nowitzki vehemently argued calls with his mouth agape, and the Blazers were unable to hit key outside shots in the final two quarters. At the end of 48 minutes Portland was faced with the stark reality that Dallas has dominated the majority of this series, especially all the games on their home court.
So this seven-game series once again relocates to the Rose Garden on Thursday, April 28, with Dallas up three games to two. But the odds are not on Portland's side. The team that wins game five at home in a tied NBA postseason series, wins outright 83 percent of the time. It's likely that Portland will take game six on their home court, but that doesn't solve the problems they have in Texas. The Blazers are winless in all five games against the Mavs at the American Airlines Center—just typing that made me grateful Paul Allen hasn't sold the naming rights to the Rose Garden (yet).
Part of the Blazers' losing streak can be attributed to the bricks they have been heaving from beyond the arch throughout these games, shooting a combined 26 percent from three-point territory. This sad percentage is down from their season average of 35 percent, which was only good for 21st best in the NBA.
A major culprit has been the man who supposedly specializes in the outside shot, Rudy Fernández. If you were curious which number was higher, Oregon's legal age for drinking or Fernández's shooting percentage this series, it's the former. With the exception of a few minutes of spark in game four, Fernandez has once again continued his postseason disappearing act, shooting a bricktacular 20 percent from the field during this series, including twice as many fouls as baskets.
The lone sliver of optimism for Portland might come in the form of revenge. In the waning seconds of game five, Dallas' role player Brian Cardinal (who, despite his inability to play the sport of basketball, has inconceivably been in the NBA for 11 years) flattened Patty Mills on a (legal) screen. Mills fought back the only way he knows how, on Twitter. Now the stage is set for one or two final games. If Portland goes down, they might as well go down swinging.