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Dallas Mavericks vs. Portland Trail Blazers Preview

The Blazers are back home to face Luka and the Mavericks

Utah Jazz v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers are finally back at home, if only for a single game. The Blazers finished their long five game road trip with a 110-106 loss at Golden State. The Blazers have lots to be happy about with the trip, including the smooth return of Anfernee Simons, some stretches of exciting play that make fans see the vision for the future, and the fact that they got a pair of solid wins and were never out of any of the games regardless of the opponent. On the downside some key injuries once again popped up, causing the Blazers to be significantly shorthanded just as Simons is back.

The Dallas Mavericks find themselves in fourth place in the West. Dallas can score, putting up 119.7 points a night. The reason they aren’t higher in the standings is their defense is shaky. They give up 117 point a night, meaning that on many nights they need to dominate the offensive end because they need every point they can get. The last game they played was a laugher though as Dallas destroyed the Utah Jazz 147-97.

Dallas Mavericks (12-8) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (6-14) - Friday, Dec. 8 - 7:00 p.m. Pacific

How to watch on TV: Root Sports, NBA League Pass

Trail Blazers injuries: Robert Williams III (out), Ish Wainright (out), Jerami Grant (out), Deandre Ayton (doubtful), Malcolm Brogdon (questionable)

Mavericks injuries: Josh Green (out), Maxi Kleber (out), Grant Williams (out)

SBNation Affiliate: Mavs Money Ball

Blazer’s Edge Reader Questions

LeftCoaster25:

How is it working out with Luka being his best with the ball in his hands (and also the best player) while having to let Kyrie get a lot of usage also?

Remarkably well. Perhaps against all odds they have legitimately become one of the best duos in the NBA. They are averaging combined 55.6 points per game, but more importantly they are cooperating much better this season. One indication of that is their 8-2 record in the clutch (clutch record is the win-loss record of games where the margin is within five points with five of fewer minutes left). You don’t do that well if your stars are fighting over the ball, and in fact Dallas was below .500 last season in that department when things weren’t going quite as smoothly between the two stars.

Kodiak62:

Luka Dončić has scored 30 or more in his last 5 games and the Mavs are 12-8.

Which Blazer do you think will guard Luka the most, hold him below 20, and why will that Blazer be rookie Toumani Camara?

You certainly answered the first part of you question correctly. Camara is likely to guard Luka the most. That’s stunning when you think that few Blazers fans had any idea who he was before the trade that brought him here. While I can’t say enough good things about his defending as a rookie in the NBA, he or any combination of Blazers won’t be holding Luka to 20. That’s a feat that’s only been twice this season, and might not happen two more times over the rest of the season. If Camara plays Doncic tough and makes him earn his buckets that’s good enough for me at this point.

Thanks for the questions!

What To Watch For

  • Transition. The Mavericks are performing extremally well in transition. They score 23.5 points per game in transition compared to 17.6 for the Blazers, and Dallas’ effective field goal percentage is 64.6%, second best in the NBA. They are top three in not turning over the ball as well as scoring percentage when in a transition opportunity. Portland will need to work very hard to limit Dallas’ transition game.
  • Don’t allow a big scoring run. Dallas can put points on the board. Exhibit A: putting up 147 points in regulation against the Utah Jazz. The Mavs can also go on scary runs. Exhibit B: Dallas went on a 30-0 run against Oklahoma City in the fourth quarter. This wasn’t some meaningless score-padding either. It was 111-87 in favor of the Thunder before the run began. In spite of the massive run that gave the Mavericks a six point lead, Oklahoma City regrouped and somehow won that game.

What Others Are Saying

MetteRobertson on Mavs Moneyball has praise for Dereck Lively, and sees Lively as being part of something bigger.

To put it simply, Lively can be Luka’s magic button to unlocking doors that Luka has been unable to open by himself. Maybe not this year, but perhaps during the next couple of years. The development potential and promises that come with a talent like Lively may be what keeps Luka happy in Dallas; something that keeps him from looking in other directions.

In one half? Ben Morse of CNN explains the impressive feat that Luka Dončić achieved.

In the first half of action alone, the Slovenian had 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, achieving the highest-scoring, first-half triple-double in NBA history. He also became the first player in league history to rack up a 25-point triple-double before halftime.

Brian Dameris in D Magazine writes a nice primer on where the Mavericks are at after 20 games.

That time has come, which means it’s time for us to take stock of who the 12-8 Mavs are and where they need to go. To do that, let’s look back at the season preview column I wrote in October and five key areas I laid out that will determine the course of Dallas’ season. Some are going better than imagined, while others still need significant improvement.