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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Dallas Mavericks Preview

The Blazers look to get another home win as they host the Mavericks at the Moda Center.

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

Portland Trail Blazers (43-27) vs. Dallas Mavericks (28-42)

Wednesday, March 20 - 7:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: CJ McCollum (out)
Mavericks injuries: JJ Barea (out), Kristaps Porzingis (out), Maxi Kleber (day-to-day)
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

The Portland Trail Blazers play the second game of their final extended home stand of the season when they face off against the Dallas Mavericks. The Blazers won Monday night against the Indiana Pacers. At 43-27 Portland currently sits at the fourth seed—barely ahead of the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Utah Jazz, and one game behind the 3-seed Houston Rockets.

The Dallas Mavericks are tied with the Memphis Grizzlies for the second-worst record in the Western Conference and their six road wins are tied for the lowest in the NBA. They have played well against Portland, however. The Mavericks have already beaten the Blazers twice in Dallas, and played them close in a 121-118 OT loss in Portland. Dallas may be playing for the future, but that doesn’t mean Portland should overlook them on Wednesday.

What to watch for

  • Slowing down Luka Doncic. The play of rookie Luka Doncic (along with the mid-season acquisition of Kristaps Porzingis from the Knicks) has given Maverick fans plenty of reasons to be excited about the future. The likely Rookie of the Year, Doncic has averaged 21.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game. For comparison, LeBron James averaged 20.9/5.5/5.9 his rookie season. Doncic has played well against the Blazers in their three matchups this season. He scored 13 fourth-quarter points to help Dallas overcome a 15-point deficit last month and hit a ridiculous three-pointer with only 0.6 seconds on the clock to force overtime in December. Keeping the 20-year-old Slovenian in check should be priority number one for Portland.
  • Last chance to see a legend. It’s widely expected that Dirk Nowitzki will retire after this season—his 21st in the NBA. The former MVP and NBA Champion is averaging only 6.1 points in 13.7 minutes per game. On Monday, Nowitzki passed Wilt Chamberlain to move into sixth place on the NBA’s All-Time scoring list with 31,424 points (behind Michael Jordan’s 32,292). Portland coach Terry Stotts has a special connection with Nowitzki as Stotts was a top assistant coach in Dallas when Dallas won the NBA Finals in 2011. The Mavericks drafted Nowitzki in June of 1998, a week after Zach Collins turned 7 months old and 19 months before Luka Doncic was born. Blazer fans should take advantage of their last opportunity to see the future Hall of Famer.
  • Filling in for McCollum. Portland will be playing without CJ McCollum for the second game. On Monday Jake Layman got the start, but he only played 14 minutes and did not score in the game. Seth Curry and Rodney Hood each chipped in 11 points off the bench, and Al-Farouq Aminu also helped fill the scoring void with 16 points. The Blazers will need different players to step up each game as they look to replace the 21.3 points per game McCollum provided.

What they’re saying

Josh Bowe of Mavs Moneyball discussed the state of the Mavericks entering the stretch run:

It’s been hard to watch, even if the team is at times more visually pleasing with some more ball movement. Watching Luka will never get old, even if he’s run into a rookie wall (well, by his standards) and we all have to cherish every last minute we get with Dirk Nowitzki on the floor.

By far the most concerning thing as we slog through these final games has been how many times the Mavericks have been absolutely pulverized while playing a rotation that features dudes that should have prominent roles next season. More minutes for Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson has been fantastic, but the results are uneven as they are perhaps getting a bit overexposed with the higher workload.

Brice Paterik of Mavs Moneyball reported on Kristaps Porzingis’ first full practice since tearing his ACL 13 months ago:

According to [coach] Rick Carlisle, the team went five-on-five for 15-20 minutes after some additional work and what he saw in practice was highly encouraging. Carlisle also noted that he’s excited to see Porzingis in a game, when he’s ready.

“It went well,” Porzingis said when asked about practice. “It’s been almost 13 months since I’ve played five-on-five so it was great today to be back on the court, to be back with my guys, to be doing what I truly love.”

Evan Hoopfer of Dallas Business Journal wrote about the resale value of the Mavericks’ final home game—and (likely) Dirk Nowitzki’s last game in Dallas—this season:

The last home game of the season for the Dallas Mavericks, April 9 vs. the Phoenix Suns, is drawing an unprecedented average ticket resale price of $287.

“This is the most in-demand regular season Mavs game we have ever seen since SeatGeek began tracking the secondary market in 2010,” said Nate Rattner, content manager at SeatGeek, a ticket reselling platform.

The average resale value of a Mavericks home game this season is $93, making April 9’s game more than 200-percent higher than average.