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Blazers-Mavericks Preview: Are Either of These Teams Playoff-Bound?

Portland faces Dallas tonight in a rematch of last week's thriller in which the Blazers stole a come-from-behind victory out from under the Mavericks' noses. Can history repeat or will this be a blowout for Dallas? Plus...does it matter? Will either of these teams make the post-season?

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks face off today in the great state of Texas, the game tipping just after 5:30 p.m. Pacific and televised on CSNNW locally. You may recall that these two teams tangled 8 days ago in a contest the Mavericks had all but won until the Blazers rallied in the fourth and LaMarcus Aldridge stuck in the dagger to send Dallas packing with a 104-106 loss. You can read the preview for that contest in order to get the gist of who the Mavericks are and what they try to do. That post is HERE.

The bad news for Dallas is that they finished the 4-game road trip (which began in Portland) with a 1-3 record. They lost to the Blazers and Warriors narrowly, beat the Suns (who doesn't?), and then got destroyed by the Thunder. Dirk Nowitzki was out against Golden State and Phoenix with a thigh injury. He returned in OKC but scored only 10 points on 3-11 shooting. It's safe to say that Dirk is not on his best footing right now. Dallas gave up 100 in all three of their recent losses, scored 100 in only 1 of those 3 games...that's not their style. At 20-28 overall now, they better recapture their mojo pretty quickly or it's going to be lottery-land for unaccustomed position and not one they were anticipating coming into the season.

No doubt you know that Lamarcus Aldridge uncorks big in Texas. That gives the Blazers a huge advantage at this point, seeing as how Nowitzki could hardly be playing worse. Portland's also had a day of rest before this game and has another after. No need to ration minutes. On the other hand Nicolas Batum is about half his normal self (if that) due to a wrist injury. Wesley Matthews produced well enough on his sprained ankle last game but he didn't look 100%. Portland's bench hasn't exactly been on fire lately ever so those could be major concerns. Also the Mavs are stocked with veterans intending to make the post-season who won't be happy about the way that loss in Portland went down. That's the kind of attitude that could lead to a blowout.

That and the prior preview should hold you for now. Here's what I want to know today. We just said the Mavericks had post-season intentions even though they're 5 games behind the Blazers in the standings at this point and the Blazers themselves only sit in 9th. So what does your gut say? Do the Blazers have a serious shot of making the playoffs? Do the Mavs? If you had to choose would you say one, none, or both of these teams finish in the Top 8 in the West and why?

Fill in the blanks below.

--Dave (