Portland At Dallas
When: 8:30 PM
ET, Friday, March 7, 2014
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
The Portland Trail Blazers are locked in a three-way battle for the third-best record in the Western Conference and own six wins in the last seven games. The Dallas Mavericks, who host the Trail Blazers on Friday, are battling for the final spot in the West playoff bracket and are not doing themselves any favors with a season-long three-game slide. The Mavericks are struggling on the defensive end and gave up 127 points in the last meeting with Portland.
Dallas could not find a way around flailing Denver in a 115-110 loss on Wednesday. “We were sitting on two losses and this is a game we needed to have, but we just weren’t quite ready to play,” Dirk Nowitzki told reporters. “…We just didn’t come out the right way and didn’t set the tone.” The Mavericks need to avoid a slow start against the Blazers, who are coming off a 102-78 trashing of the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, CSN Northwest (Portland), FSN Southwest (Dallas)
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (42-19): Portland is opening a five-game road trip through the entire Southwest Division but is well equipped to handle the trip thanks to the presence of Nicolas Batum. The French forward has become a rebounding machine over the last three games, averaging 16.3 boards and setting a pair of career highs in that span. “(Batum’s) stealing rebounds, right?” Wesley Matthews joked to reporters. “Nah, he’s playing really well. He’s doing everything, which is what his best asset is. He’s a jack of all trades and we’re feeding off of that.”
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (36-26): Dallas is one game ahead of the ninth-place Memphis Grizzlies in the West and is beginning to feel the pressure. “We’ve got to be better,” coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. “I know we’re tougher than we showed (against Denver). You know, this is the first time we’ve dropped three in a row all year, so it’s a time of great urgency and we’ve got to step up and we’ve got to respond.” Carlisle elected to bench center Samuel Dalembert for the second half on Wednesday after a poor defensive first half, and Brandan Wright could continue to get more minutes in the middle.
1. Batum set a career high with 18 boards on Wednesday, becoming the first player in franchise history with at least 18 rebounds and three 3-pointers in the same game.
2. Nowitzki is averaging 24.5 points on 59.5 percent shooting in the last two games.
3. The road team has taken the last three in the series, including Portland’s 127-111 triumph on Jan. 18.
PREDICTION: Mavericks 110, Trail Blazers 105
Stats and Records
Dallas Off vs
104.5 Points For
102.6 Points Against