Team Records: Portland (26-29) at Dallas (31-24)
Game Info: 5:30 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 750 the Game.
Vegas Line: Dallas -6.5
Refs: James Capers, David Guthrie, Marat Kogut
The Skinny: The Blazers head to Dallas for the first of two straight road games in the hopes of, if not winning, at least giving Aldridge a good night in his hometown. The Mavericks have been very up and down this year but have been hot as of late losing to only Miami and San Antonio.
Last Time They Met: The Mavericks prevailed in a 2 OT contest that might be one of the ugliest overtime games in recent memory. After notching a season low for points in the first half the Blazers somehow hung in there and actually had a chance to win at the end of the first OT. The Mavericks eventually won as Dirk hit a big shot to seal the deal late in the second OT.
Projected Mavericks Lineup:
PF-Dirk Nowitzki (Germany-14th Season) 21.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.2 APG.
SF-Shawn Marion (UNLV-13th Season)-11 PPG, 7 RPG, 2.1 APG.
C-Brendan Haywood (North Carolina-11th Season)-5.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, .4 APG
SG-Vince Carter (North Carolina-14th Season)-9.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.2 APG.
PG-Delonte West (St. Joseph’s-8th Season)-8.5 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.4 APG.
Player to Watch-Jason Terry (pictured at right)-While Dirk might have hit the big shots last year to give Dallas the title, they arguably don’t get the chance to take those big shots if Jason Terry (better known as JET, for his name, Jason Eugene Terry, and for the airplane dance he does after making a big shot) doesn’t make his fair share of long range bombs last spring. Terry has always been one of the faster players of the league and a solid, if inconsistent, long range shooter but for whatever reason it all clicked for him during Dallas’s title run as he shot 48% from the field and 44% from deep, both well above his regular season averages. On defense Terry still struggles but at least has decent hands and can force a steal or two at times. On a team as strong defensively as Dallas, however, this flaw can be more easily hidden so that his offensive firepower can be showcased.
Did You Know?: Jason Kidd ranks 10th all time in games played with 1,309, passing Buck Williams at 1,307 just over a week ago.
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 Elliot Williams (Shoulder), PF Shawne Williams (Foot).
Dallas: Out-PG Jason Kidd (Groin).
Re-Evaluating Dallas: Ready for Another Title Run?
It has not been the smoothest of seasons for the Mavericks, while at times they have appeared world beaters, at others they have looked at best average. The Mavericks seem content to go through the season exerting the minimum amount of effort needed to get a decent playoff seed and hit their stride in the postseason. With an old declining squad, this isn’t entirely a bad approach but it remains unclear if they have what it takes to make another reason. Losing Tyson Chandler will probably hurt them more than they care to admit and unless Lamar Odom stops being well, mostly awful, its going to be hard to see them repeating their magical run of last year.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Aldridge scores at least 30. Aldridge has to have a big game for Portland to have a chance. Thankfully he usually does this in Dallas so expect a closer contest than you might otherwise think.
Dallas wins if: They hold Portland under 90 points. Dallas is a very good defensive team, giving up only 93 points per game. If they can hold Portland under 90, which they only failed to do last time because the game went to double OT, they should win.