Following the well fought loss to the Jazz on Christmas night, the Mavericks head up to Portland to play another road game. It’s their second of what will end up being five road games, most of which are a west coast swath.
Due to a postponement against the Nets, the Blazers will have had no games played since December 21st, a loss against New Orleans.
Here’s some things to think about prior to the game later Monday evening.
Battle of the replacement players
The Mavericks may start getting players back soon from the slew of COVID-19 positives the team received in the last 10 days. Josh Green’s the first to return, but with Dorian Finney-Smith out with an illness Saturday night, it’s currently unclear if he’ll be playing. Kristaps Porzingis was a game time decision and it stands to reason he’ll be in a similar boat Monday evening as well.
The Blazers are not much better. Damian Lillard is rounding into form finally, following his mid-section injuries but past him... the Portland depth is shallow at best. CJ McCollum had a collapsed lung and though the Blazers announced him being healed recently, it’s unclear when he’ll be playing again. Robert Covington, Dennis Smith Jr., and Ben McLemore are in the COVID-19 protocols, so the line ups we’re going to see between the two teams ought to be interesting.
Containing Jusif Nurkic
The Mavericks have a problem with physicality in the paint and while Porzingis might mitigate things some, Nurkic’s strength is going to be a problem for the entire line up of Dallas centers, no matter who is available. He leads Portland on the offensive glass and the Mavericks need to make it a collective effort to keep him off the boards.
Porzingis and the three point shot
We’re 23 games into the season and our man is a whopping 8 percentage points off his career average from three. He’s shooting 27% and his career average is 35%. There’s going to be a positive regression for him at SOME point, but when? He’s still shooting between five and six attempts from distance per game so I suspect we’re going to get a game where he his like 8 of 10 at one point or another. At least his free throw attempts per game are approaching his career highs, which is helping mitigate this drop in efficiency from beyond the arc.
How to watch
The Mavericks play the late game Monday night at 9:00 pm CST on Bally Sports Southwest.