Portland Trail Blazers (9-3) vs Dallas Mavericks (6-5)
The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Dallas Mavericks for the sixth and final game of their first significant road trip of the season. The Blazers come into this contest sitting second in the Western Conference and winners of their last three games. They look to complete the road trip with five wins out of six games, with a few of them coming short handed in some way.
The Mavericks are coming into this contest after losing their last two games on the road to the Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards on the road. However, they have won their last four home games and look to extend that streak with their next five games at home.
Blazers vs. Pelicans - Saturday, November 12 - 5:30 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Gary Payton II (out), Olivier Sarr (out), Jerami Grant (questionable) and Jusuf Nurkic (questionable), Shaedon Sharpe (questionable), Justise Winslow (probable), Keon Johnson (out)
Mavericks injuries: Christian Wood (probable), Davis Bertans (out)
SBN Affiliate: Mavs Moneyball
Luka Doncic. The Mavericks offense begins and ends with Luka Doncic. The fifth year phenom is leading the league in points and in usage percentage. He has started out the year on fire, with his first sub-30 point performance coming in his tenth game of the season. The Blazers gameplan for this matchup will be completely centered on how to possibly slow down the freight train that is Luka Doncic. Whether or not the Blazers have a plan to either slow down the scoring or passing from Doncic may decide this contest.
The front court depth. With Lillard and Simons both available for just the third time in the last six games, the backcourt rotation is able to regulate more after a bout of injuries. However, with Justise Winslow, Jerami Grant and Jusuf Nurkic listed on the injury report, this could end up being another game that sees the Blazers rely heavily on the depth of their front court. Drew Eubanks, Trendon Watford, and Jabari Walker will likely make up the rotation of centers and forwards throughout this one if none of the three play. The three of them have been solid so far this season, and will be looked to for creation and scoring in this game.
Slow it down. The Blazers currently rank 27th in the league in pace, but the Mavericks rank dead last. These two teams are lead by a star guard that likes to create offense in the half court, and their pace reflects that. Will the Blazers try to push the Mavericks out of their comfort zone and run? Or will both teams play to the other’s strength and slow this game down to be a battle of running plays? If the Blazers can try and rush the steady offense of Luka and the Mavericks it could lead to success throughout this game.
What Others Are Saying
Jordan Brodes of Mavs Moneyball mentioned how important it will be for the Mavericks to disrupt the Blazers’ three point attempts.
The Trail Blazers aren’t hoisting threes at the rate of most teams, averaging just a hair over 30 per game. But they are connecting when they do. They’re currently 5th in the league in team three-point shooting, and have several players able to knock them down.
The Mavericks, whether by luck or scheme, have done a solid job in this area. They are limiting teams to just 28.6 three-point attempts per game, and holding teams to under 35-percent from three. It will be a busy night for Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock, and Josh Green in particular.
The Smoking Cuban’s Tyler Watts talks about the struggles of the Mavericks bench in their recent loss.
The Wizards were doubling Luka and forcing him to give the ball up. All Dallas needed to do was make open shots, but they struggled to do that, especially in the second half. The Mavs scored just 44 second-half points and shot 43.0 percent from the field in another bad loss.
The Mavs bench could not find it on Thursday night as they clearly missed Christian Wood. They were just eight of 29 from the field, and five of those makes came from Tim Hardaway Jr. It was an all-around disappointing loss to a team that did not have their two best players. The biggest letdown on Thursday night was the Mavericks’ defense.
Grant Asfeth of Dallas Basketball discusses Luka’s last two games as a possible sign of fatigue after his historic start to the season.
Doncic’s production dropped during the two-game stretch. He averaged just 23.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists. His efficiency plummeted as he shot just 34.0 percent from the floor, 26.3 percent on 3-pointers, and 43.8 percent on free throws during these outings.
There was much speculation about how long Doncic could manage the massive workload he’s carried running the Mavs’ offense to begin the season. It appears to have already reached a concerning point after 11 games, with an admission of feeling ‘more tired’ during the team’s two-game road trip.