Setting the Table: Portland Trail Blazers (Game 77)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on April 7, 2013 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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After Sunday, there’s only 10 days left in the regular season. The Dallas Mavericks (37-39) are looking to get a split out of their four-game road trip as it concludes against the Portland Trail Blazers (33-43). Portland is no longer in the playoff picture. A seven-game losing streak, which they’re currently in the midst of, will do that to a team.

With Dallas essentially three games back of the eight spot with six games to go, their collective backs are right up against the wall. In an injury update, Elton Brand will be a game-time decision due to his sore right calf.

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

Series Notes:

Fourteen of the last 18 regular-season meetings between the Mavericks and the Blazers have been decided by six points or less. Eight of the last 14 matchups between the two teams have been decided by three points or fewer (including six of the last nine). The Mavericks have taken 3-of-4 and 25 of the last 34 regular season meetings with the Blazers.

Dallas leads the 2012-13 season series, 2-1. Dallas shot a season-high 61.5 percent (48-of-78) from the field in the 114-91 win over Portland on Nov. 5. It was the highest field goal percentage Dallas recorded in a game since Nov. 25, 2009 at Houston (.655, 55-84). The Blazers took the second meeting in Portland 106-104 on Jan. 29, on a buzzer-beater by LaMarcus Aldridge. The Blazers have now won three of the last four showdowns in Portland. The Mavericks are just 19-47 all-time on the road against the Blazers. The Mavericks took the most recent meeting 105-99 at American Airlines Center on Feb 6. The Mavericks have now won 22 of the last 27 meetings in Dallas.

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. Rick Carlisle was an assistant with the Blazers from 1994-97.

Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge was born in Dallas and attended Seagoville High School. Aldridge 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 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. Keep LaMarcus Aldridge in check. In three games against the Mavericks this season, LaMarcus Aldridge has posted averages of 25.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, and has shot 52.5 percent (32-of-61) from the field. If the game is close at the end, they need to load up on Aldridge as he’s been a buzzing-beater killer for the Mavericks over recent years.

2. Get the Juice loose. O.J. Mayo averages 25.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game in three contests against Portland this season. The game against Sacramento might have been a nice turnaround game for Mayo. He had averaged a modest 6.8 points over his previous four games before scoring 13 points against the Kings. He’s also been a solid facilitator by averaging 4.7 assists over his last 10 games.

3. Win the point guard matchup. With the soon-to-be Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard as the opposition, the combination of Mike James and Darren Collison need to be up to the challenge. James has been in a rut over the last five games as he’s only averaged 3.8 points on 28 percent shooting from the field and 20 percent shooting from 3-point range. Collison is coming off one of his better games as of late as he scored 18 points and dished out eight assists against the Sacramento Kings. They’ll both need to be ready to go up against Lillard.

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.