The Dallas Mavericks (12-8) make a visit to the Portland Trail Blazers (6-14) Friday night with tip off set for 9 PM CT on Bally Sports Southwest and Bally Sports+, fresh off their dominating victory over the undermanned Utah Jazz earlier in the week. It is a light week for the Mavericks, thanks to scheduling luck after being eliminated from the NBA In-Season Tournament. Their two added games to fill the gap, against Utah and Portland, are against two of the bottom seven teams in the league.
Wednesday 147-97 thumping of the rebuilding Jazz was a reminder of what this Dallas offense is capable of. The team shot 22-of-49 from three, and their lowest quarter point total was 34 points in the second. Now they’ll hope to bottle some of that momentum and take it on the road when they face another rebuilding squad in Portland, who have gone 3-3 after losing their previous eight games. Here is what we’ll watch for Friday!
After starting the first five games of the season last summer’s third pick Scoot Henderson missed nine straight with an ankle injury. It was in those nine games that the Trail Blazers endured their 8-game losing streak.
Since his return the dynamic scoring guard has come off the bench, averaging 9.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists in a limited 22.4 minutes per game. Portland is opting to ease him into his role, but Henderson was the most explosive player in last summer’s draft. The Trail Blazers may be retooling after trading off Damian Lillard prior to the season, but getting a peak at their future alongside several other young lottery talents should be fun. With how weak the Mavericks perimeter defense has been, especially allowing drives to the rim, Henderson could show some fun flashes.
Exum’s extended role
Off-season addition Dante Exum made his first start (and played a minutes season high) against the Jazz on Wednesday. With both Grant Williams and Josh Green both out due to injury Jason Kidd opted for Exum’s perimeter defense and tertiary ball handling to compliment Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. Green and Williams are both out for Friday’s game.
He only notched five points in the win, but added six rebounds, a season high seven assists, and two steals. Exum was also a team-high +40 in his 25 minutes. Long term the Mavericks will need Exum to provide some level of shooting to extend his role. But he’s a great connector to other scorers offensively, especially when he plays next to Doncic or Irving…or both.
Ending it early
Portland, battling both development and health, have started very slow in games this season. Sporting a -12 Net Rating in first quarters in their 20 games, 28th in the league, they’re often playing catch up from jump. Not an easy way to win with an inexperienced group.
The Mavericks honestly haven’t been much better. Their -3.3 Net Rating in the first frame (a bump up thanks to Wednesday’s performance) is good for 20th in the league.
Both teams are battling injury. But the Trail Blazers are missing their experienced core. As of this writing they are likely missing Malcolm Brogdon, DeAndre Ayton, Jerami Grant, and Robert Williams III. The Mavericks have the opportunity to put this one away early.
How to watch
Tip-off is set for 9 PM CT and can be watched on Bally Sports Southwest or Bally Sports+.