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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Dallas Mavericks Preview

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The Trail Blazers take on the Mavericks with their playoff lives on the line.

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

Portland Trail Blazers (33-39) vs. Dallas Mavericks (43-30)

Tuesday, August 11 - 3:30 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (out), Trevor Ariza (opted out), Caleb Swanigan (opted out)
Mavericks injuries: Dwight Powell (out), Courtney Lee (out), Jalen Brunson (out), Kristaps Porzingis (game-time decision), Dorian Finney-Smith (game-time decision), Luka Doncic (game-time decision)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, TNT
How to stream: Blazer’s Edge Streaming Guide
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Mavs Moneyball

With only two regular-season games remaining and the Memphis Grizzlies up by half a game in the Western Conference playoff race, every matchup is important.

Damian Lillard took vengeance for the comments from public figures about his performance late against the Los Angeles Clippers by helping Portland power past the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday 124-121. Lillard had 51 points, his tenth career 50-point game to lead the Blazers. The 76ers got 34 from Josh Richardson.

Despite resting two of their stars, the Mavericks overcame the Utah Jazz 122-114 on Monday. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 27 without Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis as Dallas’s seed is virtually locked. Jordan Clarkson scored 18 for Utah.

What to watch for

  • Get CJ Engaged. CJ McCollum has had a slow restart for Portland, scoring 20 or fewer in four of the team’s six games. While that is not dreadful by any stretch, the Blazers need a greater scoring punch from McCollum to take pressure off of Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic. Carmelo Anthony has been serviceable, but the Portland offense is at its best when defenses have to focus on both guards.
  • Turn Doncic Into a Volume Shooter. Dallas has won two of three meetings against Portland this season. In the losses, Doncic hurt the Blazers badly with passing and shooting. In the one win, Doncic shot just 8-of-22 as Portland forced him into being the entire offense. Part of what makes the Mavericks’ young star so threatening is his supporting cast of lethal three-point shooters and Doncic’s ability to slash and pass. By forcing Doncic into shoot-first plays, the Blazers can take some of the venom out of the cobra.
  • Win the Battle Down Low. Kristaps Porzingis was dangerous this season against the Blazers, but The Unicorn never had to face Jusuf Nurkic, who can defend the 7’3” Latvian at the three-point line, which understudy Hassan Whiteside struggled with all season. If Portland can get Zach Collins going on offense, the Blazers’ bigs can force the undersized Mavericks into large minutes for their bench, which also limits the damage their three-guard lineup can do.

What they’re saying

Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning-News wrote about Dallas’s approach into the playoffs:

As the Mavericks, who’ve won three of six games in the bubble, look to keep players healthy with an eye toward the playoffs next week, competition will be intense.

Josh Bowe of Mavs Moneyball detailed the fun of watching star Luka Doncic:

Watching Luka Doncic against the Bucks Saturday night, none of that mattered. I was happy watching basketball. I was yelling and clapping and pacing around the room. That feeling, that high, that’s what we chase as fans an what we do this for!