Setting the Table: Portland Trail Blazers (Game 4)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on November 5, 2012 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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O.J. Mayo, who turned 25 on Monday, and Darren Collison will be half of the exciting duel between the starting guards as the Mavericks host the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland will start Wesley Matthews and early candidate for Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard. The four guards represent a nice peak into the future as all of them are 26 or younger and have tons of potential.

Roddy Beaubois, injured with a sprained left ankle, will once again be a gametime decision for Monday’s game against the Trail Blazers.

Here are some notes for the matchup against Portland.

Series Notes:

The Mavericks have won 23 of the last 31 regular-season meetings with Portland, but the Blazers have taken six of the last 11. All three meetings between the Mavericks and the Blazers in 2011-12 were decided by three points or less and the first two were decided in extra time. Dallas recorded a 97-94 win in double overtime in the first matchup at Dallas last season on 2/11/12. The Blazers made eight of their final 10 shots in regulation to tie the game at 81 and force overtime. Portland took its first lead of the night 36 seconds into the start of the first overtime period, but eventually fell in double overtime. Portland evened the season series with an overtime win at American Airlines Center on 4/6/12. LaMarcus Aldridge hit a 17-foot step-back jumper at the buzzer to give the Blazers a 99-97 victory. The Mavericks had won 20 of the previous 24 meetings with the Blazers at home before falling to Portland on 4/6/12. Dallas took the rubber match 97-94 at Portland on 4/13/12. Shawn Marion averaged 14.3 points, a team-high 11.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 39.7 minutes in three starts against Portland in 2011-12. Brandan Wright averaged 9.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in three games against Portland in 2011-12.

It’s a Small World:

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was an assistant with Dallas from 2008-12 and was with the Mavericks during their championship run in 2011. Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle was an assistant with the Blazers from 1994-97. Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge was born in Dallas and attended Seagoville High School. He went on to play his college ball at the University of Texas. Blazers forward Aleksandar “Sasha” Pavlovic was signed to a pair of 10-day contracts by the Mavericks in 2010-11. Pavlovic played in 10 games, six starts, for Dallas that year, and averaged 4.1 points and 1.2 rebounds in 16.3 minutes. Blazers assistant coach Kaleb Canales attended the University of Texas-Arlington and was an assistant coach for the men’s basketball program during the 2003-04 season. Blazers assistant coach Jay Triano was an assistant with the Toronto Raptors where he coached Mavericks swingman Vince Carter for two-and-a-half seasons from 2002-04. Blazers assistant coach Kim Hughes was an assistant with the L.A. Clippers where he coached Elton Brand and Chris Kaman. Blazers guard Elliot Williams (Memphis) and Mavericks forward Brandan Wright (Nashville) both grew up in Tennessee.

Three Keys:

1. Contain LaMarcus Aldridge. That is clearly easier said than done. He averaged 29.0 points against the Mavericks last season. It was Aldridge’s second highest scoring average
against an opposing team in 2011-12. If Chris Kaman is able to see more time on the floor, it would be ideal to have a guy like Elton Brand to muscle up against Aldridge. Brand will be able to step out and defend Aldridge on the perimeter, as well.

2. Watch for dribble penetration that leads to 3-point shot opportunities. Damian Lilliard has been fantastic in this early portion of the season. Lillard leads all NBA rookies in points, 21.3 points, assists, 9.0 assists, and minutes. 38.3 minutes. He has led the team in assists in all three games. With his ability to suck in opposing defenses, Wesley Matthews has been a major benefactor. After three games this season, Matthews is third in the league in 3-pointers made, with 10. Matthews tied for fifth in the NBA in 3-pointers last season with 129 after ranking tied for seventh in the category in 2010-11 with 154. Matthews is the only player ranked in the top seven in both seasons. Portland is putting up a respectable .400 from behind-the-arc — 10th best in the NBA.

3. Take advantage of whatever Portland gives you in terms of points off turnovers. Points off turnovers might be few and far between as through three games, the Trail Blazers are sixth
in the NBA in fewest turnovers, averaging 13.3 per game. Portland has not turned the ball over more than its opponent in a single game this season.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.