Now, the Mavericks have to face a Portland team that is fighting to secure a spot in the Western Conference Play-In tournament. The Blazers are currently 33-39, placing them at the ninth seed just half a game back from the Grizzlies. But as the blazing hot Phoenix Suns quickly approach that ninth spot, you can believe that Portland will do everything they can to win this game.
Avoiding “Dame Time”
Damian Lillard is currently a top five leading scorer in the bubble, averaging 33.0 points per game. Now, Lillard is fighting to keep his team in the playoff race. “Dame Time” has now been activated for 48 minutes a game, which is a scary sight for the rest of the league. In his last game against the Sixers, Lillard scored 51 points while dishing out seven assists. Against a Dallas team that doesn’t exactly pride themselves on defense, Lillard has been a headache. In three games against the Mavericks this season, he’s averaged 36.3 points and 7.6 assists. Luckily for Dallas, he’s shot below his season average from three-point range in two of those games. It’ll be imperative that the Mavericks can hold him below that mark again as they have struggled deeply from three-point range in the bubble.
A Mavericks team that is already bruised continues to get bumped. The first player to battle an injury in Orlando was Seth Curry, who is dealing with right leg soreness. Luckily, Curry looked back to normal in nearly 30 minutes against the Utah Jazz. Now, our focus shifts to Dorian Finney-Smith, who is dealing with a flair up of a previous hip injury. Finney-Smith was probably heading into Sunday’s game against the Jazz, but was rested as a precaution. Rick Carlisle has previously stated that he will play the starters in this game, and we’ll be on the lookout for how these two are moving. Hopefully, these injuries are just an adjustment to resuming basketball and not a symptom of something more serious.
Playoff Practice Reps
It’s impossible for the Mavericks and Blazers to meet in the first round, but this game could still prove to hold a lot of value in terms of experience. This is going to be a very competitive game, which is exactly what this team needs. In their game against the Bucks, Dallas proved that they can win games that go down to the wire. It was a confidence boost they desperately needed. But now, they’ll look to close out to add another big win to the books. This is their second to last seeding game, and a big win could add fuel to the Mavericks fire heading into the playoffs. Again, Dallas should be expecting to get met with everything Portland has.
How to Watch
Tip-off is set for 5:30 PM CT, and can be watched on TNT or FSSW.