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Game 80 Preview: Mavericks vs. Blazers

After last night's debacle, I don't even know what to write for a preview.  If we see even a shadow of the limp. washed-out Portland team we saw against Sacramento we're dead in the water already.  Assuming we do put up a fight this should be an interesting game.  Like everyone else in the West above us the Mavs are fighting for playoff positioning.  They're somewhat secure in the #7 spot but they do need to win in order to insure it.  They've been on the happy side of the ledger in five out of their last six, their only loss coming to the L*kers.  They've beaten playoff teams in that stretch too.

Josh Howard has aggravated a knee injury but is expected to play.  Even if he doesn't, Dirk Nowitzki has scored 27 or more in 3 of their last 4 games.  He's not being shy about shooting.  It'll be interesting to see how we guard him and with whom.  It'll also be interesting to see if Lamarcus can bust out against the battery of frontcourt players Dallas is going to throw against him.

This will be our first look at the Jason Kidd-led Mavericks.  He's had a handful of games with double-digit points or assists but only three double-doubles since he joined Dallas.  No triple-doubles yet.  (Let this not be the night!)  He could cause defensive problems for our backcourt.

If Howard plays that's more salt in the wound, but even if he doesn't Jason Terry is more than capable of helping the Mavs over that magic 100 mark.  They've been stingy defensively lately, which accounts for their wins.  If they're even good at half their game we're going to need a superb offensive night to win.

Long story short, the Mavs don't play people who can't score.  Most of them can score in a couple ways, rebound a little, and pass the ball too.  There's no easy formula for getting past them, especially with a short roster like ours.  You just have to rely on the emotion of the home crowd and hope it's one of those nights.

What I'd Like To See

  1.  We need some shots to fall from outside.  If Blake, Jones, Roy, and Jack aren't hitting anything deep we just can't muster enough of an inside attack to make a difference.  You can almost draw a direct line between our most horrible games lately and the games when our guards aren't hitting from distance.
  2.  Make Jason Kidd shoot the ball.  Encourage him, in fact.
  3.  It may sound strange, but considering the Mavs' advantage inside I think we need to up the tempo on them in order to be successful.  We'll have a hard time winning the rebounding battle but if we can blitz them for easier, quicker shots it won't really matter.
  4.  Brandon has to play like Brandon.  He's the catalyst.
  5.  We need one surprise huge scorer outside of the obvious two.  Travis?  Jarrett?  Steve?  Channing?  Von Wafer?
--Dave (