Dwight Howard had a good game in the opener of the series against Portland but it could have been better. He could have made his free throws. He missed a key rebound that would have ended the game in regulation. Instead LaMarcus Aldridge sent the game into overtime. Dwight allowed himself to get caught up with Robin Lopez which is a bad habit of his, losing focus on the game and receiving a technical. But Dwight is on record that he wants the ball. His history is that when he demands something he usually fails. Of course he wants the ball. But so does James Harden. And so does Jeremy Lin. And Chandler Parsons. Dwight signed his fate when he went to Houston. A team with such skilled perimeter scorers was going to limit his attempts. If he was a more consistent post player perhaps they would have confidence in his low post game. But Harden is going to continue to be Harden which means he will take a lot of shots and play zero defense. The key for Portland is Damien Lillard. Can he continue to dominate the Houston backcourt? Patrick Beverly will play but he is not 100%. Houston has to win this game. Howard has to win this game. He left Los Angeles for this one moment. He better come through. Or else it will be the usual Dwight Howard narrative about his continued failures.
San Antonio vs. Dallas- The Mavs should have won the last game. They had it in control and then they did not make a shot in the last seven minutes. Normally you would credit Coach of the Year Greg Popovich for this adjustment but the Mavs offensive no-show was purely upon them. They turned the ball over. They took bad shots. They didn’t move the ball. They were missing their best player. Dirk Nowitzki was the invisible disappearing man while Tim Duncan looked incredible. The Mavs have no bigs who can guard Tim other than Brandan Wright who is just a shot blocker. The Spurs did not shoot the three well; that won’t last. Neither will 20 shots by Tim Duncan. Expect more of Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs bench was terrible and they’ll rebound. For Dallas to have a chance they have to shoot a high percentage. But with Monta Ellis and Vince Carter on the perimeter that may be asking for a little too much.
Miami vs. Charlotte- With Al Jefferson hobbled there is not much Charlotte can do for scoring. They built their team on defense and Big Al. The only thing that will keep the game from getting totally out of control is that the Bobcats are a tough, gritty team that collectively believes in playing hard and executing on defense. It is usually not pretty but it is why they are in the playoffs. Miami will be Miami. They will coast a bit, they’ll lose interest and then it will be the third quarter and they will drive a nail in the coffin.