Portland Trail Blazers (22-30) at Dallas Mavericks (20-31)
Feb. 7, 2017, 5:30 PST
Watch: CSN NW; Listen: Rip City Radio 620 AM
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (probable), Festus Ezeli (out)
Mavericks injuries: Deron Williams (day-to-day), Andrew Bogut (day-to-day), J.J. Barea (out)
SBN Affiliate: Mavs Moneyball
After a strong finish to January, the Trail Blazers will be looking to avoid a three-game losing streak when they visit the Mavericks tonight. This is the final matchup between these two teams, and Dallas holds the season series advantage two games to one.
The Blazers are less than a week removed from Friday’s tough loss to the Mavericks. Yogi Ferrell was already starting to make waves after arriving in Dallas on a 10-day contract, but his 32-point outburst in Portland helped him secure a new two-year deal.
While Ferrell’s performance certainly did damage, he did receive some help from the rest of Dallas’ cast. After struggling to score in the first two meetings this year, Wesley Matthews was able to shake-off the rust against his former team. Portland was forced to adjust to Ferrell mid-game, and Matthews’ 27 points made them pay dearly for it.
On top of the problems the Mavericks brought to the table for the Blazers, Lillard was unable to get into his rhythm on offense. With his outside shot failing him, he was forced to take the ball inside, where Salah Mejri met him with three blocks in only 18 minutes of action. Now listed on the injury report, Lillard’s shot at redemption against Dallas could be hindered.
Even after two consecutive losses, the Blazers’ reshuffled starting lineup is still creating reasons for optimism. Evan Turner has played well, and his 24-point outing on Friday helped Portland erase a sizable first quarter deficit, making the game close down the stretch. More importantly, he seemed to be the only player capable of slowing down Ferrell on the defensive end.
If Lillard is limited in this one, Allen Crabbe will likely see a larger workload off the bench. His 3-point shooting accuracy - shooting above 50 percent in his last five games - will come in handy for coach Terry Stotts if this game turns into a shoot-out.
While the NBA season is only slightly past the halfway point, this contest has significant playoff implications. Dallas had its four-game winning-streak snapped in Denver on Monday, but they are well within striking distance for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The Blazers still hold a slight advantage over the Mavericks, with both teams trailing the Nuggets. In a race this close, winning a season series over an opponent could make all the difference in April.
The Mavericks have only won one game this season on the second night of back-to-back, which should give the Blazers some hope while playing on the road. Portland plays its next three games against likely playoff teams, so a victory tonight could prevent an extended slide in the standings.