Setting the Table: Portland Trail Blazers (Game 45)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on January 29, 2013 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

8411772216_97cdc109ec_z

The Dallas Mavericks (19-25) start a four-game road trip off against the Portland Trail Blazers (22-22). Like Dallas, Portland is currently on the outside of the playoff picture, so Dallas needs to find a way to grit out a tough win on the road so they can continue to make up some ground as they make a push for the 8th spot in the Western Conference. It would certainly help if the Mavericks take advantage of their bench. Dallas owns the third-highest scoring bench in the NBA this year at 40.4 points per game, while Portland owns the lowest scoring bench at 16.5 points per game.

The Mavericks might be short-handed as Chris Kaman is dealing with a minor injury. According to reports out of Portland, Kaman missed shootaround after bumping his head in practice yest. He’s being reevaluated and is considered a game-time decision for the game against Portland.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Trail Blazers.

Series Notes:

The Mavericks have won 3-of-4 and 24 of the last 32 regular-season meetings with the Blazers. The Mavericks took the first meeting between the two teams this season, 114-91, at Dallas on Nov. 5, 2012. Dallas shot a season-high 61.5 percent (48-of-78) from the field in the win over Portland. It was the highest field goal percentage Dallas recorded in a game since Nov. 25, 2009 at Houston (.655, 55-84).

The Mavericks have taken 10 of the last 15 matchups in Portland. The Mavericks are just 19-46 all-time on the road against the Blazers. 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. Dirk Nowitzki averaged a team-high 22.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 41.3 minutes in three starts against the Blazers last season. Nowitzki (right knee surgery) did not play against the Blazers on Nov. 5. O.J. Mayo scored a game-high 32 points for Dallas in the win over Portland. Darren Collison posted a double-double with 14 points and a season-high 13 assists in the first matchup against Portland. Chris Kaman went 8-of-10 from the field and recorded 16 points and six rebounds off the bench. Brandan Wright (10) also scored in double figures for Dallas in the win over the Blazers.

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. He 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 Mavericks forward Elton Brand and Mavericks center Chris Kaman. Blazers guard Elliot Williams (Memphis) and Mavericks forward Brandan Wright (Nashville) both grew up in Tennessee.

Three Keys:

1. Watch out for LaMarcus Aldridge. The big man had 20 points and seven rebounds in the first matchup against the Mavericks. Aldridge has had 10 double-doubles through the month of January. As the month is about to come to a close, the 10 double-doubles in January are tied for the most in the NBA. Aldridge has three games this season of at least 30 points and 10 rebounds, which is tied for the second most such games in the NBA this season. Aldridge and LeBron James are the only players in the league that average 20.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.

2. Keep the offensive synergy going. The Mavericks have scored 100-plus points in each of their last eight games (6-2 record). Dallas is averaging 110.1 points per game on 47.5 percent shooting in that span. Dallas has scored 110-plus points in three of its last four games. The punch has come by a platoon of players as Dallas has been able to show off some of their depth. The Mavericks have had at least five scorers in double figures in each of their last eight games.

3. Don’t forget about Damien Lillard, but REALLY don’t forget about Nicolas Batum. We all know that Lillard has had an electrifying rookie season, but Batum is a guy that can do just about everything for Portland. He recorded his second career triple-double within a week Jan. 26 vs. the L.A. Clippers, finishing with 20 points, 10 rebounds and a career-best 12 assists. Batum is the second Trail Blazer in team history to record two triple-doubles in the same week (Clyde Drexler, twice). Batum is the first Portland player to record at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in a game since Rod Strickland (Feb. 15, 1995 at Phoenix). Batum is one of four NBA players to record multiple triple-doubles this season (R. Rondo, L. James, J. Calderon). When recording his first career triple-double on Jan. 21 vs. Washington, Batum joined LeBron James and Rajon Rondo as the only players to record three steals and two blocks to go with a triple-double this season. In the same game, Batum became first Trail Blazer to record a triple-double while also tallying three steals and two blocks since Clyde Drexler in 1991.

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.