Tonight, the Dallas Mavericks are looking for their first win on the season against the Portland Trail Blazers (2-3).
Normally it’s Damian Lillard on the fun end of that shot, but not this time. This worries me, since Lillard will come out tonight angry. After a nice start, the Blazers are 2-3, with losses to the Warriors, Suns, and Clippers, and wins over the Jazz and Nuggets.
Portland is a dangerous team, as anyone who watched the playoffs last year should know. Damian Lillard is cold blooded and can hit from anywhere. CJ McCollum can get hot fast and still gives Dirk’s feet nightmares. The sad thing is he didn’t really do that much to shake him, that’s just how Dirk’s footwork looks now.
Al-Farouq Aminu is a great defender and slasher but is a barely decent 3 point shooter even when left open. Moe Harkless is a Swiss army knife that does a little bit of everything at multiple positions. Mason Plumlee is a passable starting center with excellent rebounding and passing capabilities.
Their bench is where it gets interesting. Evan Turner is a mid-range killer with solid defensive capabilities that gives good minutes when called upon. Meyers Leonard is a matchup nightmare. He can hit 3’s, drive, pass, and finish at a solid level.
If given enough run he will be an issue for our centers, who will have to choose between containing a Lillard drive or a Leonard pick and pop 3. Allen Crabbe is a similar player to McCollum, and will fill those scoring shoes when called upon. The last big contributor is Ed Davis, a high energy rebounder and finisher who will be a monster on the offensive glass.
The key to containing the Blazers will be to control the paint and not letting Lillard or McCollum get hot. I’m a little worried about Lillard because D-Will is hurting and we only have one Wes Matthews to throw out there. The Blazers also like to run a lot more than we do, and we’ve looked really slow these first few games.
For the Mavs to win we are going to have to get stops and find some consistent and reliable offense from somebody. Dirk needs to make some shots. Matthews and Williams need to protect the ball and be more efficient. Bogut and Powell have to get some put backs. The more energy we have, the better chance we stand.