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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Dallas Mavericks Preview

Can the Blazers bounce back on the second night of a back-to-back?

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Portland Trail Blazers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (20-27) vs Dallas Mavericks (27-21)

The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Dallas Mavericks on a back to back and the second game of a two game homestand. The Blazers are coming off of a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves after two wins to end their road trip. The Mavericks are also on the second night of a back to back after losing to the Warriors in San Fransisco.

Wednesday, January 26- 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports NW, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Larry Nance Jr. (out), Cody Zeller (out), Nassir Little (out), Robert Covington (out)
Mavericks injuries: Tim Hardaway Jr. (out), Sterling Brown (out)
SBN Affiliate: Mavs Moneyball

What To Watch For

Back to back. Both teams are coming off of a back to back. The Blazers are coming in with a distinct advantage however. Sleeping in their own bed as their game the day prior was another home game, the Blazers have more time to relax than the traveling Mavericks. How each team adjusts to playing less than 24 hours after the end of their last game could decide the outcome of this contest.

Battle on the boards. The Blazers and Mavericks are tied for 22nd in the league in rebounds per game at 43.9. The Blazers, however, outclass the Mavericks on the offensive boards where their rank jumps to 14th whereas the Mavericks drop a few spots to 24th. Jusuf Nurkic will be instrumental in that regard as his 10.9 rebounds per contest are well above the average of any other player in the game. The Blazers will need to hold a significant margin on the offensive glass while taking care of business on the defensive boards to hold the Mavericks at bay.

Luka Doncic. Since coming into the league Doncic has been a one man army. With 5 triple doubles to his name this season and averages of 25.5 points 8.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game, Doncic could go off at any moment. Luka averages 30.1 points per game against the Blazers, an average that is second only to his average against the Detroit Pistons. The Blazers will have to try and limit Doncic by throwing every defender on the roster at him. Doncic hasn’t scored less than 20 points in his last 11 games and is coming into this game playing only 26 minutes in the Mavericks loss to Golden State meaning he will have fresher legs than most Blazers. The Blazers will be hard pressed to slow down the force that is Luka, but they will have to if they have any hope of winning this contest.

What Others Are Saying

Lauren Gunn of Mavs Moneyball talks about the Mavericks struggles on offense in their blowout loss to the Warriors.

While Luka got going early, things flatlined for the Mavericks after the first quarter. They got several open shots but failed to convert. After putting up 10 early points, Tim Hardaway Jr. went down with a foot injury and was unable to return. The Mavs’ offense went stagnant, and the quality of shots dipped. With the loss of Hardaway moving forward, coach Jason Kidd faces another challenge as he will have to find Hardaway’s offensive production elsewhere. We will see how these next few games go and how that may impact Dallas’ priorities at the trade deadline.

Brad Botkin of CBS Sports notes that Dallas’ offense may begin to struggle with a loss like Tim Hardaway Jr.

Hardaway is not having a great season shooting-wise at under 34 percent from 3 and under 40 percent from the field. But he’s a main source of offense off Dallas’ bench and a threatening scorer every night.

The Mavericks have become a top-tier defensive team this season under Jason Kidd but entering play on Tuesday the offense had fallen over five points per 100 possessions from last season. Some of that is Hardaway’s shooting; the Mavericks haven’t shot well in general.

Sportingnews.com’s Gilbert McGregor talks about the slump Luka Doncic has been in from behind the arc despite his gaudy scoring numbers.

We can start with the ups, as Doncic has gone off in two of his last three outings, scoring 37 points on 13-of-25 shooting in a win over the Grizzlies on Jan. 23 and a season-high 41 points on 13-of-24 shooting in a win over the Raptors on Jan. 19, but those two standout performances did very little in altering the bigger picture of Doncic’s confounding shooting numbers this season.

Even when factoring in the above two games, Doncic is having a wildly inefficient season from beyond the arc, shooting 15-of-73, or 20.5 percent, from 3-point range in his last 10 games — four of those 3-point makes came against the Raptors.