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Trail Blazers Face Mavs For Second Time

01/28/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    The Trail Blazers (22-22) take on the Dallas Mavericks (19-25) on Tuesday night at the Rose Garden for the second time this season. The game will tip-off at 7PM and will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

        •    Although I know it's not true, I'd like to think Coach Stotts threw away the game tape from the previous match-up because it was ugly. Portland was flat from the get-go, two days after an emotional overtime victory in Houston. The Mavericks had still not yet truly felt the affects of not having Dirk Nowitzki and an aging roster and were playing extremely well. O.J. Mayo was shooting over 60 percent from three during that time and has since come back to earth a bit, even if he is still shooting a sharp 41.8 percent. Mayo decimated the Trail Blazers from deep, hitting six of his eight three-point attempts and scoring 32 points in the victory, but he wasn't the only one who went off. Every player in the Mavericks starting five shot over 57 percent. Portland's defense has improved since their early season struggles. Having Dirk Nowitzki has improved things slightly, but aside from Mayo and Nowitzki, the Mavs are without offensive weapons that can really scare you unless Vince Carter gets hot or Darren Collison has a straight line to the rim. Portland should be able to adjust to the things that Dallas was able to do.
     
      •    Another thing that has changed aside from the Mavericks having Nowitzki back is the amount of defensive coverages that Damian Lillard has seen since the fourth game of the season. The Mavericks were the first team that really challenged Lillard and hedged hard on Portland's pick and rolls. Against the Clippers, we saw Portland have Nicolas Batum initiate the offense, something that wasn't in the fold early in the season. Lillard says that he enjoys not being called on to make plays and his off the ball play will be something that should help Portland's offense, by adding another dimension to it. Everyone knew of Lillard's strength in running the pick and roll leading into the draft but Lillard has also proven to be an efficient isolation option for the Trail Blazers. Lillard ranks 4th in the NBA in points per possession on isolations among players that have had at least 100 possessions of isolation according to Synergy Sports Technology. So, it should no longer be a surprise that when Portland has a chance at the last shot, Stotts go to the 1-4 low isolation set with Lillard.
       
    •    Hickson has been attacking the rim at very high rate. A higher percentage of shots have come at the rim than they ever have before in his career this year in Portland and he's getting to the rim at an elite level in the NBA. Shots at the rim are the most efficient shots in the NBA and Hickson has the third most attempts at the rim in the month of January, hitting over 60 percent of those attempts. His efficient offense coupled with his top-three total rebound rate are signs that continue to point to Hickson finding his NBA niche.


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