NBA Western Conference Showdown: Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks
The Portland Trail Blazers seem to continue to prove doubters wrong. Despite owning the league’s best record (30-9), pundits seem slow to predict the Blazers as true contenders. However, last night (Friday) the team took care of business against the San Antonio Spurs on the road, winning 109-100 in a game that can illustrate how deceptively good Portland is.
One reason for the doubt regarding the team’s quick start has been the lack of defense. Portland has the league’s highest scoring offense (109.1 points per game), but is yielding 102.7 points to opponents (25th in NBA). Yes, that is still a +7 in the differential column, but playoff basketball demands defense. The fact that the Blazers are an excellent road team (14-5) and also a great rebounding team may prove to counteract the lack of defense, though.
The Dallas Mavericks have been slightly better than expected at 24-17, and will prove a formidable opponent tonight. The Trail Blazers have won just three of its past 19 games against Dallas on the road, and Portland has averaged only 89.4 points per game over those 19 contests.
But the Blazers are a different team as of last year, with the addition of Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, so perhaps the historical approach to the team’s struggles may be overstated.
Monta Ellis has proven to be the right addition for the Mavs, who chose not to resign O.J. Mayo after a breakout season. Ellis has always been able to put the ball in the basket, and he’s second on the team in scoring (20.1 points per game) to Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki’s role has declined in his latter years, but he’s still posting a PER of 23.7 while averaging 21.3 points per game.
The biggest sign of decline has come in his rebounding, where Dirk used to be good for around eight boards per game. This year, he’s averaging just 5.8 rebounds per game and the Mavs have been typically getting slaughtered on the boards. The team ranks 28th in rebounding and second chance points have hurt an otherwise decent defense.
Portland Trends: 0-4 ATS in last 4 Saturday games; 7-1 ATS in last 8 after their starting five combine for 160 minutes of play in previous day; UNDER 5-1 in last 6 after scoring 100 or more in previous game.
Dallas Trends: OVER 3-0-1 in last 4 vs teams with road winning percentages over .600; OVER 4-0 in last 4 vs teams with winning SU records; OVER 12-2 in last 14 vs teams with winning percentages above .500.
Head-to-head: OVER 4-0 in last 4 in Dallas; Trail Blazers 0-5 ATS in last 5 meetings; OVER 4-1 in last 5 meetings.