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5 Questions as the Dallas Mavericks Face the Portland Trail Blazers

The Blazers host the Dallas Mavericks tonight at the Moda Center.

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

The Portland Trail Blazers are back in action tonight to take on the Dallas Mavericks with a 6:00 PM, Pacific start at Portland’s Moda Center. To learn more about the Blazers’ opponent, we spoke with DallasBasketball.com editor-in-chief Dalton Trigg.

1. How have the Mavericks responded to Kyrie Irving’s absence from the lineup after his injury against the Blazers last week?

They’ve responded well, not just with his latest injury, but also earlier this season when Kyrie missed a few games with foot soreness. The Mavs are now 5-2 when Irving doesn’t play, but given how gassed their offense looked in the loss to the Timberwolves on Thursday, they need him back sooner than later.

2. If the Mavericks win Saturday, what would be the reason why?

Luka Doncic. That might not be a crazy, unique answer, but it’s true. When you have the best player on the floor, you always have a pretty solid chance of coming out with the win. More specifically, though, 3-point shooting will be key. The Mavs are coming off a game where they shot 7-32 (21.9%) from deep. I don’t see them repeating that performance.

3. What’s one thing people should know about the Mavericks that they couldn’t find in a box score?

Rookie big man Dereck Lively II has completely changed the dynamic of this Mavs roster. Even on nights where he might only score six points or grab four rebounds, he’s affecting the game in a big way by setting screens for Doncic and doing the dirty work on defense.

4. What’s a matchup that you are looking forward to seeing?

Dante Exum vs. Anfernee Simons. Simons got the best of Exum in their last matchup, although the Mavs came out with the win. Exum prides himself on being a great perimeter defender, grinding his opponents down as games go on. We’ll see if he can hold Simons under 30 points this time.

5. What’s your prediction for Saturday’s game?

With Jerami Grant, Deandre Ayton and Malcolm Brogdon back for this one, it will be tougher for Dallas than it was a week ago, but again, I just don’t see the Mavs’ 3-point shooting being as poor as it was against Minnesota. I’m taking the Mavs in 10+ point win.