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Setting the Table for Portland versus Dallas

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The Portland Trail Blazers come to town on Wednesday night, a nationally televised game, and they've had the Mavericks' number.  The all-time record against Portland is 18-44.  Portland won 3 out of 4 encounters against Dallas last season, including a game in Dallas that went to overtime.  That game had Andre Miller scoring 52 points.  What exactly did Portland do last season to have their success?  "Everything," said Carlisle.

Portland is currently one game under .500 (12-13), injuries to their front-line players such as Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla have hurt them.  Despite the injuries, they're still  a team that has the attention of Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle, "They're just a very good overall team, very experienced, very physical, have a lot of dangerous players and can hurt you a lot of different ways."

A key statistic to watch tonight will be the battle for rebounds, specifically the offensive rebounding department.  That area has been a point of emphasis as of late for the Mavericks and Portland is a dangerous team when it comes to creating more opportunities.  "Their offensive rebounding is a real concern, so our block-outs have to be good," Carlisle said.  "They're top two or three in the league in offensive rebounds and second chance points are easy points, we don't want to give those up."

An obvious concern as of late has been the Mavericks blowing 20-point leads.  They've been lucky to hold on to those leads in some occasions and have been unsuccessful in other situations.  What is the solution to fix the problem?  "We've got to play our game," said Carlisle.  "Each possession is a a separate possession.  We've got to stay in the present.  And hey, we've got to keep getting them, I think that's one real good positive.  The ability to get leads is not easy to do in this league, but that’s the biggest thing and we’ve got to keep working the game."

Portland ranks in the bottom third of points per game at 93.9/game, but they only allow teams to score 94.6/game.  It could be a grind it out game.  "They're real poised and take their time in running everything on the floor," said Mavericks Forward Shawn Marion.  "They really don't force tempo in the game, they're a low-possession team."  Marion understands the challenge, but is more focused on his own team.  "We've just got to go out there and impose our will," he said.  "It's not about them, it's about us.  I think we just have to go out there and do what we do best: stop them, get out and play ball."

With two games left in the longest home-stand of the season for the team, Marion points out what needs to be done to finish the stretch the right way.  ”Win,” Marion said. “That’s it, win. What more do you need? A W solves everything.”