Team Records: Portland (25-23) at Dallas (20-28)
Game Info: 5:30 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Dallas -5.5
Refs: James Capers, Derrick Collins, Olandis Poole
The Skinny: The Blazers look to make it three wins in a row as they head to Dallas for the second of their season-defining six game road trip. The Mavericks badly need a win to retain any hope of making the playoffs. Dallas comes into this game fresh off a shellacking at the hands of the OKC Thunder.
Last Time They Met: Portland erased a 21-point third quarter lead and LaMarcus Aldridge scored five points in the final five seconds of the game to give the Blazers an epic come from behind victory.
Projected Mavericks Lineup:
PF: Dirk Nowitzki (Germany, 15th season) – 14.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.5 APG
SF: Shawn Marion (UNLV, 14th season) – 11.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 2.6 APG
C: Bernard James (Florida State, Rookie) – 3.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, .1 APG
SG: OJ Mayo (USC, 5th season) – 17.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 4.4 APG
PG: Darren Collison (UCLA, 4th season) – 12.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 5.2 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?: Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle’s next win will be his 500th career coaching win. Carlisle will be the 28th NBA coach to accomplish this feat.
Song of the Day: “Hit the Road Jack” by Percy Mayfield as performed by Ray Charles-Since we are in his hometown, I thought best to go with something Aldridge loves. Many of you might not know but Aldridge plays the piano and his favorite pianist is Ray Charles. Here is one of Ray’s best. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliott Williams (Achilles), Questionable –SF Sasha Pavlovic (Foot), PG Ronnie Price (Ankle)
Dallas: Out-C Chris Kaman (Concussion), Questionable-SG Vince Carter (Illness).
Re-Evaluating Dallas: Aldridge’s Dallas Dominance
Dallas native LaMarcus Aldridge often seems to play his best ball against his home town club. Both of his career buzzer beater winners are against them (one last week and one last year in double OT in Dallas) and indeed generally Aldridge plays best when facing the Mavericks. In 22 career regular season games against the Mavericks, Aldridge is averaging 21.6 points (his 2nd most against any team (22.9 versus Detroit) on 52% shooting, as well as 8.3 rebounds a game. Given how strong a team Dallas has been during LMA’s career, this is no small feat for him. Now if only we could trick him into thinking he was playing Dallas every night…
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 90 points. The Mavs typically win because of good defense. If they can hold Portland under 90, they will almost certainly prevail Wednesday.