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Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks Preview

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The Blazers have a chance to sweep their Texas Two-Step in Dallas against Doncic and the Mavs.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (18-24) at Dallas Mavericks (26-15)

January 17, 2020 - 6:30 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (out), Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Skal Labissiere (out), Mario Hezonja (game-time decision)
Mavericks injuries: Kristaps Porzingis (game-time decision), Isaiah Roby (game-time decision), Ryan Broekhoff (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
How to stream: Blazer’s Edge Streaming Guide
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Mavs Moneyball

The Portland Trail Blazers surprised one Western Conference playoff team in Texas, and now they look to topple another in Dallas.

Wednesday night the Blazers used a team effort to down the Houston Rockets, 117-107. Damian Lillard had 25 points, and Carmelo Anthony was efficient with his 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Russell Westbrook had 31 points and a triple-double in the loss for the Rockets.

For Dallas, they took care of business against the Sacramento Kings, 127-123 in California. Luka Doncic had 25 points, 15 rebounds, and 17 assists while former Blazer Seth Curry had 21 off the bench. De’Aaron Fox’s 27 led the Kings, who also got 25 from Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield.

What to watch for

  • Unicorn Hunting. In the previous meeting between these two squads, Kristaps Porzingis went off for 32 points and 9 rebounds against a healthy Zach Collins and Hassan Whiteside. Now with the depleted bigs for Portland, they will have their hands full if Porzingis plays. The Blazers need to force the ball into the hands of Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber.
  • “Don” Sleep On Doncic. Luka Doncic is proving to be an all-world talent easily worth a top five NBA Draft selection. This season teams have not stopped him as much as contained him. His worst game of the season was thanks to extreme pressure from the Denver Nuggets, holding him to 12 points on 3-of-12 shooting. Dallas still won that game thanks to its deep bench. Kent Bazemore is going to have his hands full.
  • Efficient Bench Scoring. One of the Mavs biggest strengths is their deep bench. Between Curry, Delon Wright, and whichever big sits when Porzingis is healthy, they have the power to keep or even extend leads when their starters rest. Portland’s injuries have depleted the depth, so they need strong individual nights from Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little, and company.

What they’re saying

Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes that the Mavs still have a lot to learn this year:

This is Dallas’ best midseason record since 2015, when it was 28-13. The Mavericks are sixth in the Western Conference. According to Basketball Reference they have a 100% probability of making their first playoff appearance since 2016 and 76.2% odds of winning their first division title since 2006-2007.

Doyle Rader of Mavs Moneyball asks if the Mavs will already retire the jersey of retired legend Dirk Nowitzki:

The last number that the Mavericks retired was a long time in the making. Former Mavericks guard Derek Harper had his No. 12 jersey retired in 2018. Harper played 11 seasons with the Mavs and last suited up for Dallas during the 1996-1997 season. He retired from the NBA in 1999.