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Mavs can't let Portland dictate pace

DALLAS -- This series will be painful to watch for folks around these parts if Portland dictates the pace.

No NBA team played at a slower pace this season than the Trail Blazers. They'll try to turn this series into a halfcourt grind, which is exactly what the Mavs don't want to happen.

The Mavs were a middle-of-the-pack pace team this season, but they play their best basketball when Jason Kidd operates in the open court.

"It's important that we play our style of basketball," center Tyson Chandler said. "When we play defense and get stops and rebound the ball, we fast break. When we fast break, we’re a tough team because we can put up big points in bunches. If we put up big points in bunches, it’s going to take them out of what they want to do. We have to force this series into our style."

That's easier said than done. There are reasons Portland has been able to dictate the pace all season.

Dirk Nowitzki points out that the Trail Blazers, who are loaded with long, athletic frontcourt players, are a terrific transition defense team. Portland also ranks third in the NBA in offensive rebounding rate.

It's tough to push the tempo if you're getting your butts kicked on the boards. That's why the Mavs' mission to increase the pace begins with finishing defensive possessions.

"We can’t take the ball out and try to speed the game up," Nowitzki said.