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Trail Blazers Clash With Mavericks In Dallas

  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0


    Tonight the Trail Blazers (25-23) play game two of their six-game road trip in Dallas, in rematch of last week's dramatic 21-point against the Mavericks (20-28). The game will start at 5:30 PM and will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 620 AM KPOJ.

        •    Obviously, Portland's epic comeback was what everybody remembers from that night only eight days ago. The dramatic exchange between Dirk Nowitzki and LaMarcus Aldridge that Aldridge wound up on top of is likely the thing people took away from that memorable game. However, Portland found themselves down by 21 points in the third quarter, so even though the Aldridge's heroics were remembered, Portland needs to make adjustments. Darren Collison was doing major damage to Portland during the game and his 17 points and nine assists were a big reason they got such a big lead. In addition to Collison, everybody on the Mavericks was shooting well and the team shot 50 percent from the floor and over 55 percent on threes. On the other end the only damage Portland could do was inside, with Aldridge and JJ Hickson putting up monster numbers. That was a constant while the Trail Blazers were down and their tenacious play on the offensive end would only continue as the game went on and Portland got back into it. Portland's starting perimeter players (Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, Damian Lillard) went a combined three for 24 in the first half but there ability to get and hit shots in the second half helped the big men make a comeback. Sasha Pavlovic (plantar fascitis) and Ronnie Price (right ankle) were both keys to that comeback in the third and fourth quarter but it's very possible, if not likely, that both players will be unavailable due to injury as they are both listed as questionable. 
       •    Once again, with regards to the playoffs, this is a big one as are the first three games of this road trip. Dallas, like the Trail Blazers, are on the outside looking in on the playoff picture but their chances of making it are becoming smaller as the losses pile up. The Trail Blazers are much closer to the playoffs right now than the Mavericks are but this game is huge for helping them get back into the playoff race. Of the teams that are between 7th and 11th in the standings, the Trail Blazers have the best record against the Western Conference at 16-13. If playoffs are a goal this season for these Trail Blazers, this is the type of game they have to win. It will be tough. Portland would do well to avoid another big deficit as they lost by 23 in November and fell behind by 21 last Tuesday. With a game against the high-octane and currently 8th seeded Rockets coming up, Portland will need their energy.
      •    However, if Portland does go down early, Stotts will likely turn to Luke Babbitt and go with their small line-up with Aldridge at center. Stotts doesn't always use this line-up, but when he does, it's effective. They have played 50 minutes together throughout the season over 16 games since the line-up began against the Charlotte Bobcats in their 18-point comeback in five minutes in early December. However, it has played enough minutes to qualify in the NBA's top 250 lineups this season and then you see why Stotts goes to it so much. The Aldridge-Babbitt-Batum-Matthews-Lillard line-up is second in the league in net rating, which is the differential between their offensive (points scored per 100 possessions) and defensive ratings (points allowed per 100 possessions), of +38.6. Not only is that line-up scoring at an extremely efficient clip with an effective field goal percentage (eFG%, a stat that takes into account the extra worth of three pointers) of 62.8%, they allow only 91.9 points per possession. For the sake of context, the Indiana Pacers lead the NBA with a defensive rating of 96.5 points per 100 possessions. So, when Portland goes small, it usually means good things for them.

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