Tonight the Mavs (7-21) look to make progress on both ends in a road contest at Portland (13-17). Both teams are underperforming and will look to make tonight a statement game.
Currently, the Mavs sit at the bottom of the league at 7-21. Fortunately, the Blazers are also struggling and have lost three in a row.
Discounting the Blazers’ loss to the Warriors, which should only count as half a loss at this point, the Mavs and Blazers have played the same two teams their last two games: Sacramento and Denver. The Mavs blew out Sacramento 99-79, and lost in Denver 117-107. Meanwhile, the Blazers lost a shootout in Denver 132-120, and gave up 55 to Boogie and his mouthpiece in Sacramento in a 126-121 loss.
What does this mean for tonight? Well, Damian Lillard has been visibly frustrated with his teams’ effort and toughness during this losing streak, publicly calling them out after the Golden State game. It seems reasonable to believe he will be in attack mode tonight against a injury ravaged Mavs team that will be hard pressed to keep up on the scoreboard.
Speaking of the scoreboard, the Mavs are dead last (LAST?!) in points per game. However, the Blazers are 29th in points allowed per game. Tonight will come down to who improves their weak spot the most. If the Mavs can score efficiently, their sixth ranked defense could very well carry them to a much needed road win (1-13?!?!).
If the Blazers finally decide to guard someone and play tough team defense, then it will be a long night for the Mavs, as Portland has the sixth best offense in the league. Led by Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and a bevy of shooters and playable big men, Portland is a tough matchup for most teams, but Dallas has the personnel and IQ to make it tough on them.
The only matchup I’m worried about is Deron Williams and Barea on Lillard or McCollum. If either of those two gets free and starts making shots and creating good looks for their teammates, it will be a long night for Mavs fans.
Tonight will be a matchup of opposites. The Mavs are defense oriented and struggle to score, while the Blazers score easily and struggle to get stops. Whichever team decides to fix their weak area will win tonight. I think the Blazers will put more effort into their defense and defend home court, and the Mavs’ road woes and inability to score consistently will doom them late.