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Dallas Mavericks at Portland Trail Blazers Game Preview

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The Trail Blazers hope to right the ship at home tonight against the hapless Dallas Mavericks.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks (7-21) at Portland Trail Blazers (13-17)

Dec. 21, 2016, 7:00 PST
Watch: CSN NW; NBA TV Listen: Rip City Radio 620 AM
Blazers injuries: Al-Farouq Aminu (DTD), Festus Ezeli (out), Evan Turner (questionable)
Mavericks injuries: Andrew Bogut (out), Dirk Nowitzki (questionable)
SBN Affiliate: Mavs Moneyball

Less than 24 hours after blowing a fourth quarter lead in a bizarre finish against the Sacramento Kings, the Portland Trail Blazers return home on the second night of a back-to-back to take on the Dallas Mavericks.

Dallas, a team that has played well below even mediocre expectations this season, comes into the game having played slightly better of late - winning three of their last seven contests. While Mavericks fans are glad to see some sort of turnaround, it appears that age and injury has caught up to this Dallas team.

Starting center Andrew Bogut has missed just over two weeks with a bone bruise in his right knee while starting power forward Dirk Nowitzki, who has been upgraded to questionable for tonight’s game, has missed the last 13 contests with a right Achilles strain.

Wesley Matthews, sufferer of his own Achilles injury a few seasons ago, has unfortunately morphed into a low percentage 3-point bomber. Matthews shoots 39 percent from distance on more than eight attempts per game, but is shooting just 38 percent overall on the season. Though his game has never been predicated on athleticism, Matthews struggles to move as fluidly or play as aggressively as he once did.

Starting point guard Deron Williams, now in his 12th NBA season, is far removed from his peak days where a legitimate argument could be made about whether he or Chris Paul was the best point guard in the NBA. Though he still puts up a respectable 13 points and just under seven assists per night, Williams joins Matthews in the sub-forty percent club, shooting 39 percent from the floor and 32 percent from the 3-point line.

Starting small forward Harrison Barnes has been a bright spot for the Mavericks, putting up 20 points per game on a solid 46 percent shooting. While his 3-point shooting has dipped to a career-low 33 percent - likely a result of not playing with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson - Barnes has been effective at the rim and in the mid-range, fulfilling some of the promise that he showed coming into the league.

Dallas features Seth Curry, Dwight Powell, and Blazer-killer J.J. Barea in a reserve unit that doesn’t have enough firepower to balance out the weakened starting unit. Dallas ranks 29th in the NBA in points per game, 30th in rebounds, 30th in free throws attempted, and 29th in field goal percentage. Defensively, they are 25th in 2-point percentage allowed and dead last in 3-point percentage allowed. Basically, this is a bad team.

The Blazers desperately need to show up and beat the teams that they are supposed to. Afte playing poor defense for three quarters and going ice cold in the fourth quarter against the Kings, with San Antonio and Toronto looming on this home stand, Portland can’t afford to cough up another expected win. Last time these teams matched up, the Blazers came away with a 105-95 victory behind 42 points from Damian Lillard, while the rest of the team shot 38 percent. Hopefully the Blazers play with the urgency that we’ve seen too little of this season and handle business at home like they’re expected to.


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