The Portland Trail Blazers face off against the Dallas Mavericks following a gritty win over the New Orleans Pelicans 101-93. The Mavericks arrive in Portland fresh off of a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in which Luka Doncic had a 42-point game. This matchup will be a battle of the point guards as Damian Lillard takes on Doncic.
Friday, March 19 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass or see games all season on fuboTV
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out)
Mavericks injuries: Willie Cauley-Stein (out) James Johnson (out), Dorian Finney-Smith (questionable), Tyrell Terry (out)
SBN Affiliate: Mavs Moneyball
What To Watch For
- Battle of the Backcourts. Without a doubt, the two players to watch in this matchup are Damian Lillard and Luka Doncic. But with CJ McCollum back in the rotation, the Blazers have a second option that they have been lacking while McCollum was out with a broken foot. While McCollum is still on a minutes restriction as he recovers, he allows Lillard to have more opportunities off-ball, something that will be desperately needed against this Mavericks team.
- Defense. The Blazers have struggled with defensive woes, but they do show flashes now and again of putting something together, as they did in their win over the New Orleans Pelicans. The Blazers were able to hold the Pelicans to under 40% shooting inside and 27% from the perimeter. They will need to hold on to that perimeter defense against the Mavericks.
- Getting it going in transition. This feels like a perennial issue for the Trail Blazers, but they do have some players that can get going on the fast break, like Derrick Jones Jr. Defense leads to offense, and if they are able to maintain their defense as mentioned above, it’s more likely that they will be able to take advantage of transition opportunities.
What Others Are Saying
Jordan Brodess over at Mavs Moneyball dives into Doncic’s court vision and what it means for his fellow Mavs.
But enough of that. The combination of spacing designed by Carlisle, and Doncic possessing perhaps the best vision in the league in the half court means every player must stay engaged for the full 24 seconds. It is not uncommon for Luka to pull three defenders to him at a time. And as likely as he is to dump it to the cutter near him, he’s just as likely to fling it 45-feet across the floor to the player (often Finney-Smith) standing in the corner with no defender in the same zip code.
Doncic is currently fifth in the league in potential assists, averaging 17.2 per game. This number largely falls on big men missing layups and dunks, and everyone missing wide open threes. This is what has largely been the difference between this season’s offense to last.
At the Dallas Morning News, Callie Caplan says the Mavericks should stand pat ahead of the trade deadline, given how well they have been playing.
Since debuting their ideal starting lineup on Feb. 1, the Mavericks have been on a tear.
Dallas has won 12 of its last 15 games and in the process clinched head-to-head tiebreakers over the Clippers, Nuggets and Spurs, all ahead in the Western Conference standings.
The Mavericks have pointed to continuity, even despite short-term injuries, as the core reason for their February and March dominance.