Team Records: Portland (15-12) at Dallas (16-11)
Game Info: 5:30 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 750 the Game
Vegas Line: Dallas -4
Refs: Dan Crawford, Bennie Adams, Karl Lane
The Skinny: After a far closer than it should have been road win in New Orleans, the Blazers try to sweep this mini-road trip in Dallas with a game against the defending champs. Dallas has been up and down this year, seemingly unbeatable one game and completely awful the next (see their consecutive blowout losses at home to open the season). They come in off a road win against a Minnesota team that had already beaten them twice this year.
Last Season: Besides beating the Blazers in the first round of the playoffs in 6 games, Dallas split their four game set with Portland last year, with both teams winning both games at home. Aldridge averaged nearly 28 points and 9 rebounds in the four regular season meetings last year.
Projected Mavericks Lineup:
PF: Dirk Nowitzki (Germany, 14th season) – 17.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.3 APG
SF: Shawn Marion (UNLV, 13th season) – 11.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.9 APG
C: Brendan Haywood (North Carolina, 11th season) – 5.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG, .4 APG
SG: Vince Carter (North Carolina, 14th season) – 11 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.6 APG
PG: Jason Kidd (California, 18th season) – 4.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 5.1 APG
Player to Watch: Vince Carter (pictured at right) – It has been a long often bumpy ride for the player once considered one of the most exciting in the NBA. Carter might have lost the physical prowess that allowed him to put up amazing dunk after amazing dunk but he is still a fairly good player. Carter is a decent outside shooter and has good handles on offense. He is also a decent passer, although when his shot isn’t falling he tends to dig himself a deeper hole by not passing the ball and trying to shoot his way out of it. Carter is a decent defender if he’s into it but he often isn’t. Bottom line, he may no longer be Vinsanity but he’s still a decent player.
Did You Know?: Jason Kidd’s 107 career triple doubles are third all time behind Oscar Robertson (181) and Magic Johnson (138).
Portland: Out – C Greg Oden (knee).
What happened to Dallas? The team that was ruthlessly efficient on offense, strong on defense and deep at all positions seems to have gone and is not likely to come back. Statistically, Dallas is an average team offensively (17th in offensive efficiency) and although still a good team defensively (8th in defensive efficiency) are a far cry from where they were last year. Some of it is age, they weren’t a young team to begin with, some of it is motivation, having won a title they aren’t trying as hard and some of it is personnel, losing Tyson Chandler hurt more than they might care to admit. Dallas is still a good team and is capable of putting up a good effort every night but they are not what they once were. With all that said, for Portland in Dallas, it will still be a tough go if they are to win Saturday.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They limit second chance points. Dallas will pick you apart if you allow them to get second chance opportunities like New Orleans got Friday.
Dallas wins if: They hold Portland under 100 points. Dallas is still a good defensive team but they are not that great on offense. If they can hold Portland under 100, as almost everyone has managed to do vs. the Blazers when they are away from Portland, they should be able to take this one.