The Mavericks need to win a basketball game soon.
They’re sitting at 0-4 and are coming off a loss to the Utah Jazz on the road. Sure, Dirk Nowitzki was out for two of those games and Dallas is still clearly figuring things out.
But Dallas’ schedule doesn’t get any easier. Six out of the Mavs’ next ten games are on the road, many coming against playoff contenders. One of their rare home games comes Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers, led by dark horse MVP candidate Damian Lillard.
Portland was a surprise team last year, and should be even better this year led by Lillard. The Mavs will have their hands full, but they really need this.
So how do they get their first win?
Obvious, sure. But it can’t be understated.
Through five games this season, Lillard is averaging 32.6 points, six rebounds, and 4.6 assists all while shooting 50 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from deep. Those are MVP numbers.
The Mavs did a decent job of defending James Harden in their two contests with Houston last week. Wesley Matthews got the bulk of the load, but that was guarding his own position. Putting Wes on Lillard frees up C.J. McCollum to go nuts.
Dallas is going to have to get creative when it comes to defending this really potent backcourt. There’s no one in Dallas’ point guard rotation that I feel confident about guarding Lillard. This is where the Mavs really miss Devin Harris.
If the Mavs aren’t able to at least make it tough on him, they need to hope Deron Williams finds his shot again and can, maybe, match him. Not exactly a winning game plan.
Get Barnes more touches
While watching that atrocious offensive performance against the Jazz, I found myself thinking, "Man, Dallas needs a bucket. Get Harrison in the game."
Barnes’ stat line wasn’t anything special against Utah: 14 points 6 of 13 from the field. But I thought Dallas could have gone to him more when their offense stagnated. His one-dribble pull up has been effective, and he’s knocking down open shots he wasn’t making in preseason. A couple of quick makes for him is something that can really get the offense going when it begins to struggle.
I really like Josh Bowe’s idea of using Barnes as a roll-man to generate offense. Barnes has obviously gotten more shots as a result of being in a bigger role, but I hope Dallas gets him touches when things go south.
Get in the paint
So, Portland isn’t very good at defending the paint.
In fact, the Blazers are first in the league in opponent points in the paint, giving up an average of 53.2 per game.
The Mavs, meanwhile, are last in the league in points in the paint, with just 33.5 per game.
Something has to give.
This provides the Mavs a perfect opportunity to get in the lane and wreck some havoc. Williams has not been good when it comes to getting in the lane as the Mavs’ lead ball handler. J.J. Barea should have a great game with his ability to drive to the rim.
Who knows, maybe this is Andrew Bogut’s breakout game? Whatever the case, Dallas absolutely has to take advantage of Portland’s vulnerable interior defense.
How to watch
As usual, you can watch this game on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass for the out of area folks. Tipoff is set for 7:30 CT.