Team Records: Dallas (19-25) at Portland (22-22)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: Portland -2.5
Refs: Monty McCutchen, David Guthrie, James Williams
The Skinny: The Blazers look to close out a crazy January with a win against the aging Mavericks. Portland has won two of three since breaking out of their six game losing skid. Dallas has been playing .500 ball as of late but baring a huge push looks out of the playoff race.
Last Time They Met: Dallas broke open a close game early in the fourth and went on to win handily, outscoring the Blazers 31-12 in the final stanza.
Projected Mavericks Lineup:
PF: Dirk Nowitzki (Germany, 15th season) – 14.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.4 APG
SF: Shawn Marion (UNLV, 14th season) – 10.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.6 APG
C: Bernard James (Florida State, Rookie) – 3.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 0 APG
SG: OJ Mayo (USC, 5th season) – 17.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.2 APG
PG: Darren Collison (UCLA, 4th season) – 12.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5.1 APG
Player to Watch: Dirk Nowitzki (pictured at right) – Dirk makes no sense as a player, he’s tall but he’s not a great rebounder, nor does he bang inside and his jump shot form shouldn’t be emulated by anyone, ever. Yet, for many years he has been one of the most consistently successful players in the NBA by realizing that just because everyone else does things a certain one doesn’t mean he has to. Dirk has a devastating mid-range jumper and his one-legged fadeaway is both unblockable and extremely frustrating when he nails it over you. He hasn’t gotten back to his usual form yet this year, as Dirk is still clearly recovering from his pre-season injuries but he’s still a damn good player and one you have to watch night in and night out.
Did You Know?: Dirk Nowitzki is 18th all time on the scoring list, just behind Patrick Ewing. He passed Allen Iverson in 19th during their last game.
Song of the Day: “You Shook Me All Night Long” by ACDC-A few years ago a Dallas reporter asked Dirk to show him the most played songs on his IPod. #1 on Dirk’s last was this song. Dirk explained “That one gets me pumped up. I listen to it in the gym, especially, and sometimes before a game. AC/DC just has this raw energy that I try to tap into.” (Link:www.dallasobserver.com/2006-03-30/music/dirk-s-little-secret/full/). Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliott Williams (Achilles), Questionable –SF Sasha Pavlovic (Foot).
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 two 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 90 points. The Mavs aren’t the strongest offensive team in the world. They can’t win if Portland tops 100, but they almost certainly should if they can hold the Blazers under 90.