Trail Blazers vs Mavericks Monday, 11/05/12 AT 05:30PM

Trail Blazers Wrap Up 3-Game Road Trip In Dallas

11/05/12
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 3.0

    After a thrilling overtime win against the Houston Rockets, the Portland Trail Blazers (2-1) head to Dallas to face the Mavericks (2-1). A win for Portland would give them a winning record on their first road trip of the season before returning home for a three-game home stand. The game will start at 5:30 PM and will be televised on CSNNW and broadcast on the radio on KEX 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

    • Damian Lillard takes his rookie showcase to Dallas. Lillard has had over 20 points and 7 assists in his first three games as a pro and with those numbers, including his takeover of the overtime period against Houston, has taken the league by storm.  Lillard will have his work cut out for him against one of the league’s best defensive minds in Dallas’ Rick Carlisle. It will be interesting to see what and who, Carlisle decides to throw at the rookie. Again, just as it seems he will have every night, he as a tough assignment guarding Darren Collison. Collison is one of, if not the league’s fastest point guard and he is averaging 17.3 points and seven assists through three games.

    • Terry Stotts is making his return to Dallas. Stotts was an assistant coach with the Mavericks for four years before becoming the Trail Blazers head coach. Stotts implemented the same offense in Portland that he helped coach in Dallas and it will be interesting to see how he coaches against his former team. However, the Mavericks who he is facing look very different than they did the year before. Along with Collison, they have many new faces including OJ Mayo, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman and rookie Jae Crowder has found himself in the team's rotation.

    • LaMarcus Aldridge comes back home. In Portland’s last trip to Dallas, LaMarcus Aldridge hit a game-winning buzzer beater over Brendan Haywood to win the game. Aldridge has had double-double’s in his last two games and it will be interesting to see how he does against a very good defensive front line of Brandan Wright, Elton Brand. Brand, despite being amnestied by Philadelphia, is one of the league’s best interior defenders.

    • Can Batum string consecutive good games together? Batum woke up from a first half where he was not only scoreless but completely ineffective to lead the Trail Blazers to a third quarter comeback that put the Trail Blazers ahead before eventually winning in overtime. Through three games, when Batum has been a big factor, the Trail Blazers have won.

    • The Trail Blazers need more of a kick from their bench. Meyers Leonard has been getting better as the back-up center but he hasn’t given the Trail Blazers any punch offensively.  Frankly, nobody was really expecting that from Leonard this early in his career, who is in their for his rebounding and shot-changing ability. Will Barton had a very fun and effective 15 minutes against Houston when he filled the stat sheet with five points, four rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block. Through three games, not a single Trail Blazers reserve has scored in double-digits. The entire starting line-up is averaging double-figures in points. Through three games every Trail Blazer starter, with the exception of JJ Hickson, is averaging 38 or more minutes. Hickson is averaging 29 minutes over the first three games. Dallas doesn’t have a player exceeding 33 minutes per game. Those numbers should quickly balance out as the season goes on, but it seems Stotts wants his starters getting the team on the right track first.

    • Speaking of Hickson, he continues to impress as the starting center. Hickson has recorded double-digit rebounds in each of Portland’s first three games. In addition to his high energy play on the boards, Hickson is scoring too, averaging a double-double of 12 points and 11.3 rebounds.

    • This game will likely be an up and down affair. With a scorer like OJ Mayo and a speedy point guard in Collison, the Mavs have shown that at least while Dirk Nowitzki is out, they will commit to running offensively. The Trail Blazers like to push the pace too, but they can only do it effectively when they are getting stops and forcing turnovers. They need to try and force the Mavericks into shots they aren’t comfortable with. Through three games, the Mavericks are shooting over 50% from the three-point line, with Mayo leading the charge in that category, hitting 12 of the 19 threes he’s taken.

    • Mayo, much like James Harden in the previous game, comes in hot. Although his numbers are not as gaudy as Harden’s, Mayo still presents a problem. He is an athletic guard who can shoot and his confidence is likely sky-high coming off a 30-point performance. It will likely be on Wesley Matthews again to answer the call against Mayo.

    • Both teams are dealing with injuries. Ronnie Price made his Trail Blazers debut on Saturday but after six first half minutes, he did not play in the second half and instead Nolan Smith played when Lillard sat. Also, Sasha Pavlovic, who had played the most minutes off the Trail Blazers bench in the first two games, was a late scratch from Saturday’s game with a bruised quad. The status for both will likely be unknown until game-time. New acquisition Chris Kaman (right calf) made his Mavs debut on Saturday against the Bobcats, scoring 16 points in Dallas’ blowout win. Dallas’ back-up point guard Rodrigue Beaubois (left ankle) sat out that game. Dallas’ superstar Dirk Nowitzki has not played a game this season as it out indefinitely after arthroscopic knee surgery.

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