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Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks Preview

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The Blazers look to beat the Mavericks for the second time in less than a week.

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NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (26-22) vs. Dallas Mavericks (16-32)

Friday, January 26th - 5:30 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: None
Mavericks injuries: Devin Harris (out), Nerlens Noel (out), Seth Curry (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Mavs Moneyball

Update:

According to Casey Holdahl of the Trail Blazers, Evan Turner will not play against Dallas.

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Portland will look to continue their momentum as they visit Dallas. The Blazers beat the Mavericks 117-108 at the Moda Center Saturday and are coming off a big win against a division rival in the Minnesota Timberwolves. Portland has played well lately, winning four of their last five games. They have, however, lost their last four road games.

At 16-32, Dallas owns the second-worst record in the Western Conference (behind Sacramento). They are 1-1 since losing in Portland last week. They beat the Wizards in convincing fashion before falling to the Rockets on Wednesday.

What to watch for

  • Can Dame continue his hot streak? This week Lillard was selected to play in the 2018 All-Star game, and he has definitely been playing at an All-Star level lately. Lillard has averaged 28.8 points and 7.6 assists in his last five games while shooting an efficient 53.3 percent from the field and 52.3 percent from beyond the arc. He was dominant in Portland’s win over Dallas last week, scoring 31 points on 15 shots (including 7-9 from three) while adding nine assists and five rebounds.
  • 3-point shooing. While not near Houston’s level, Dallas shoots a lot 3-pointers. They put up the fourth-most 3’s per game at 31.9. The Blazers limited Dallas to only 25 attempts in Saturday’s game, although Dallas did shoot 40 percent. Portland has been one of the best teams in the league at defending the 3-point line all season. They are top five for both opponent 3-pointers made (9.3) and attempted (25.8) per game. The Blazers have been hitting threes pretty well themselves. Over their last five games, they are making 14 threes per game (second to only the Houston Rockets) while shooting a league-best 44 percent.
  • Will any bad blood continue? In last week’s game Jusuf Nurkic and Mavericks center Salah Mejri got tangled up and had to be separated. Mejri threatened to come to the Blazer locker room according to Evan Turner. Mejri hasn’t had a great week. He picked up two quick technical fouls and was thrown out against Washington on Monday. Coach Rick Carlisle angrily cursed at him as he headed back toward the locker room (Carlisle later apologized). The 7-foot-2 Mejri did have 10 rebounds (including six offensive boards) in 15 minutes on Wednesday night.

What they’re saying

Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News wrote that it’s time for the Mavericks to start thinking about next season:

There comes a time in a season like this when it’s clear that the Mavericks have to take a good look at what they have and start aiming for next season and beyond. That time has come and gone. Dirk Nowitzki played only 15 minutes against the Rockets because he was feeling sick to his stomach and he was held out after the first three-plus minutes of the third quarter. He went home quickly after the game. That wasn’t a sign that the Mavericks are ready to start tanking their way to one of the top draft picks. But it was a precursor of what we can expect moving forward. The Mavericks know they have Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr. Yogi Ferrell looks like a keeper and Dwight Powell, Salah Mejri and Maxi Kleber all figure to be around next season for sure as their young players continue to grow. They hope a top-five draftee will be the next cornerstone for the future. After that, it’s a matter of being smart and lucky in free agency. The hard part of the rebuilding process is almost over. Just 34 more games to go.

Wesley Matthews has been the subject of recent trade rumors. Josh Bowe of Mavs Moneyball broke down his shooting numbers this season:

Wes is terrible shooting at every part of the court except threes, where he’s great and in the paint but outside the restricted area, where he’s elite. It’s a shame, because Matthews would be such a great fit on any of the current homecourt teams in either conference. The Mavs talent-barren roster just asks him to do way too much.