Portland Trail Blazers-Dallas Mavericks Preview

Portland Trail Blazers-Dallas Mavericks Preview

The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Dallas Mavericks for the sixth and final game of their first major road trip of the season. The Blazers enter this contest second in the Western Conference and winners of their last three games. They’re looking to end the road trip with five wins from six games, a few of them shorthanded in one way or another.

The Mavericks enter this contest having lost their last two road games to the Orlando Magic and the Washington Wizards on the road. However, they have won their last four home games and are looking to extend that streak with their next five home games.

Blazers vs. Pelicans – Saturday, Nov. 12 – 5:30 p.m. PT

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

Blazer injuries: Gary Payton II (out), Olivier Sarr (out), Jerami Grant (questionable) and Jusuf Nurkic (questionable), Shaedon Sharpe (questionable), Justise Winslow (probable), Keon Johnson (out)

Wounds of Mavericks: Christian Wood (likely), Davis Bertans (excluded)

SBN Affiliate: Mav Moneyball

The game

Luka Doncic. The Mavericks offense starts and ends with Luka Doncic. The fifth-year phenom leads the league in points and usage percentage. He started the year on fire, with his first performance under 30 points in his tenth game of the season. The Blazers’ game plan for this game will be all about how to possibly slow down the freight train that is Luka Doncic. Whether or not the Blazers have a plan to slow the scoring or pass from Doncic may decide this contest.

The depth of the front court. With Lillard and Simons both available for just the third time in the last six games, the backcourt rotation is able to regulate further after a spell with 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 relying heavily on the depth of their forward court. Drew Eubanks, Trendon Watford and Jabari Walker will likely rotate centers and forwards throughout this one if none of the three play. All three of them have been solid so far this season and will be sought after for creation and scoring in this game.

To slow down. The Blazers currently rank 27th in the league in pace, but the Mavericks are dead last. Both of these teams are led by a star goaltender who likes to create attack on the half court, and their pace reflects that. Will the Blazers try to push the Mavericks out of their comfort zone and run away? Or will both teams play to each other’s strength and slow this game down to a battle of games in progress? If the Blazers can try to rush Luka and the Mavericks’ steady offense, it could lead to success all game long.

what others say

Mavs Moneyball’s Jordan Brodes mentioned how important it will be for the Mavericks to disrupt the Blazers’ three-point attempts.

The Trail Blazers aren’t hoisting all three at the pace of most teams, averaging one in 30 hairs per game. But they connect when they do. They are currently 5th in the league in team three-point shooting and have several players capable of knocking them down.

The Mavericks, whether by chance or by scheme, have done a solid job in this area. They limit teams to just 28.6 three-point attempts per game and keep teams under 35 percent on three. It’s going to be a busy night for Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock and Josh Green in particular.

Smoking Cuban’s Tyler Watts talks about the Mavericks’ bench struggles in their recent loss.

The Wizards doubled Luka and forced him to give up the ball. All Dallas had to do was make open shots, but they struggled to do that, especially in the second half. The Mavs scored just 44 points in the second half and shot 43.0 percent from the field in another bad loss.

The Mavs bench couldn’t find him on Thursday night as they clearly missed Christian Wood. They were just eight of 29 on the field, and five of those marks came from Tim Hardaway Jr. It was a disappointing loss for a team that lacked its two best players. The biggest disappointment on Thursday night was the Mavericks defense.

Dallas Basketball’s Grant Asfeth points to Luka’s last two games as a possible sign of fatigue after his historic start to the season.

Doncic’s production plummeted during the two-game streak. He averaged just 23.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists. His efficiency dropped as he shot just 34.0 percent from the floor, 26.3 percent on 3-pointers and 43.8 percent on free throws in those outings.

There was a lot of speculation about how long Doncic could handle the huge workload he underwent leading the Mavs offense to start the season. He 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.

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