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3 things to watch for when the Mavericks visit the Trail Blazers

The Mavericks need a bounce back game tonight in Portland.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Portland Trail Blazers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (27-21) will need short-term memory loss after they were run off the floor last night in a 130-92 loss to the Golden State Warriors. They are back at it tonight in a visit to the Portland Trail Blazers (20-27).

Games between these two teams are typically high-scoring affairs (the Mavericks won this season’s first matchup 132-117), but this time around the Mavericks will be facing an extremely hobbled Blazers squad: Damian Lillard, Larry Nance Jr., and Cody Zeller are all out with long term injuries, and Nassir Little is listed as Day-to-Day.

Here is what we’re watching for tonight:

Who is the next man up?

The Mavericks have been without end-of-bench wing Sterling Brown for four games with foot soreness but the bigger loss for the Mavericks is sixth man Tim Hardaway Jr., who left last night’s game after fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. Prognosis about how it will be treated and the length of his absence are not yet clear. But past examples of this injury indicate Hardaway will be gone a while.

The Mavericks haven’t shot the ball well this season, top to bottom of the roster. Hardaway himself has returned to earth compared to the last two seasons (he’s shooting 33.6-percent from three). But since Jalen Brunson’s move to the starting lineup Hardaway was the only real scoring punch off the bench. Without that, the Mavericks may need to move some pieces around. Either that or Reggie Bullock needs to step up. His defense has been a plus this season, but his offense has been absent. Long considered a true Three-and-D wing, Bullock is shooting his worst from three since his rookie season in 2013-14. Now would be a great time for him to find his shot.

Porzingis bounce back

It was a tough outing last night in The Bay for Porzingis, who had nine points and seven rebounds while going 4-of-15 from the floor and 1-of-7 from three. He celebrated the effort by getting ejected from the game after kicking the ball into the stands.

The good news is Porzingis’ career numbers have been pretty solid against the Blazers. In 12 games he’s averaging 20 points, seven rebounds, and nearly two blocks per game while shooting 40-percent from three. Of the 32 games he’s played this season KP has shot 40-percent or better from three just eight times, so not sure we should expect that effort tonight. But how he handles facing Jusuf Nurkic, and how he takes advantage of a depleted Blazers roster is worth keeping an eye on.

DSJ reunion

Former Mavericks lottery pick Dennis Smith Jr. has faced his original team just once: the season after he was traded, while still playing for the New York Knicks. He played a solid 30 minutes off the bench, posting 13 points, six rebounds, and eight assists in a 106-103 Knicks win. Of note, this was a game in which current Maverick Frank Ntilikina started for New York. Doncic appeared in that game as well, with a dynamic 33-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist game.

Since then neither have played against each other. Smith’s career since being traded has taken many winding turns, now landing in Portland after earning a spot on the roster. Though still coming off the bench he has gotten consistent time, and has had a few breakout games.

At one time seen as the Mavericks’ foundation for a new era, and reportedly good friends in their time playing together. Perhaps it will feel a little nostalgic to see Smith and Doncic face-off.

How to Watch

Tip-off is set for 9 PM CT, and can be watched on BSSW locally and NBA LeaguePass nationally.