The roller-coaster season the Mavs have had continues tonight against the 18-14 Portland Trailblazers. After starting the season 2-7, the Mavs righted the course and proceeded to win 13 of their next 17 games. Since then, the Mavs have reeled of five straight losses. The five-game losing streak has moved them from seventh in the loaded Western Conference down to the eleventh spot with a 15-16 record.
The last time the Mavs faced the Blazers, they came in hot by winning eight of their last ten games. Dallas won the game at home, 111-102. Things are different now. Dallas finds themselves streaking in the wrong direction while Portland has shaken off a slow start to climb back into playoff contention. To make matters worse, Dallas is 0-4 in the second game of back-to-back sets this season. After last night’s loss to the Warriors, the Blazers get the chance to make Dallas 0-5. Dallas has not won a game since Dirk Nowitzki returned.
Dennis Smith Jr. has had a rough sophomore season. He was tasked with learning how to play off the ball with the arrival of Luka Dončić. It started to look like he was figuring out how to do that until he sprained his right wrist. During his nine game absence, the Mavs have managed to win only three games. They sorely miss his driving ability which opens up shooting opportunities. With the Mavs more focused on the three ball, they have gotten into bad habits of settling for the three even if they aren’t hitting it. The 5 for 33 three point shooting game (which DSJ played in) in Phoenix is a perfect example of this issue. The Mavericks need their change of pace guard back in the line up to help remind them that it is okay to drive the ball and make two pointers. Weirdly, they also miss his defensive intensity, and will probably will tonight against Damian Lillard.
Portland hosts Dallas after a 3-1 stretch that featured quality wins against the West current playoff teams, like the Grizzlies, Clippers, and Raptors but lost to the Jazz in blowout fashion. Their season hasn’t had the ups and down the Mavs have had but they have been inconsistent. Their longest winning streak is four games and their longest losing streak is three games. The Blazers are in the top 10 in free throw shooting percentage and three point percentage. They are also top ten in the rebounding categories. Although they are fifth in the NBA in total rebounds, they give up the 6th most rebounds to opponents. DeAndre Jordan has six 20 rebound games this year and has an opportunity to get his third 20 rebound game in a row tonight.
Dallas takes on Portland at 8:00 PM central time on Fox Sports Southwest.
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