Team Records: Portland (30-9) at Dallas (24-17)
Game Info: 5:30 p.m., TV on KGW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -1.5
Refs: Bennett Salvatore, Eric Lewis, Derek Richardson
The Skinny: Fresh off a very impressive win in San Antonio tonight, the Blazers take step two in the Texas three-step as they travel to Dallas to take on the always tough Mavericks. Portland faces a Dallas team that, although lightly regarded at the beginning of the year, is currently firmly in the playoff hunt. Dallas comes into this game fresh off a thrilling road win in Phoenix last night. The Mavericks have won three in a row at home and have been playing relatively well as of late. Dallas has won 22 of the last 27 at home against Portland.
Last Time They Met: Monta Ellis nailed a buzzer-beater to win the game for Dallas after Lillard had tied it with a 3 with 1.9 left. Lillard had 32 in the loss and Dirk led the Mavs with 30.
Projected Mavericks Lineup:
PF: Dirk Nowitzki (Germany, 16th season) – 21.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3 APG
SF: Shawn Marion (UNLV, 15th season) – 11.4 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.7 APG
C: Samuel Dalembert (Seton Hall, 12th season) – 6.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, .5 APG
SG: Monta Ellis (Lanier (HS), 9th season) – 20 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 6 APG
PG: Jose Calderon (Spain, 9th season) – 12.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 4.8 APG
Player to Watch: Monta Ellis (pictured at right) – Monta Ellis is an infinitely frustrating sort of player no matter whether he is on your team or your opponent. Ellis is capable of amazing outbursts on offense and when he’s feeling it, he can score in bunches, but when he’s not, he can shoot your team out of games. Yet, he has been mostly good this season, having his best shooting year since the 07-08 season and the third best of his career. Monta has also picked up the assists as well, although he still can tend to be selfish. He doesn’t play much defense but you can overlook that as long as he is producing as well as he is this season.
Did You Know?: Dallas’s Vince Carter ranks ninth all time in 3-pointers made with 1,724. Next up on the all-time list is Peja Stojakovic with 1,760.
Song of the Day: “Dallas” by Willie Nelson. One of America’s best talents sings about his love of the city of Dallas. Enjoy:
Dallas: Out – PG Devin Harris (Foot), PG Gal Mekel (Meniscus)
Re-Evaluating Dallas: Fun with Mark Cuban
There may be no more polarizing owner in the NBA than Mark Cuban but, in my view, there may be no more fun owner in the NBA than Cuban. You may deny it, but Cuban is living the dream. He made his money and now he’s enjoying the fruits of his labor, hanging out with sports stars, being a true fan and dropping $110k on a celebration at a Miami nightclub the night they won the title a few years ago. He’s mellowed a bit over the years but he is still that fun loving, polarizing, ref baiting figure of old, living life and just enjoying the ride.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They limit Dallas’s 3 point shooting. The Mavs live and die by the jump shot. Make them attack you inside and they become far less effective. If Portland can do so, they should win.
Dallas wins if: They hold Portland under 100 points. The Mavs are a bad defensive team but if they can hold Portland under 100, they should be able to pull it out.