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Mavericks vs. Trailblazers Preview: 3 things to watch as Dallas takes on Portland

Dallas looks to keep the good times rolling against Portland in Dallas

Portland Trail Blazers v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

Dallas kicked off a seven-game homestand against Portland on Wednesday night and took care of business – cruising easily to a blowout victory. The only thing tempering the positive vibes from a much-needed win was the injuries sustained by Dereck Lively and Grant Williams who both suffered ankle sprains.

Things can get a bit wacky when two teams play each other back-to-back. Coaches can make and implement adjustments much easier than they would if they were coming off a game against any other team. That’s to say, hopefully, Dallas can have a repeat of their last matchup and not fall victim to any sophomore slump.

Frontcourt feast

While the win against Golden State was a beautiful encapsulation of egalitarian basketball, this past win over Portland was what happens when two superstars decide they’re going to go win a game.

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving combined for 70 of Dallas’ 126 points, and that’s with both of them sitting down early on account of the overwhelming lead they built.

They both obviously had great games, but nothing that shouts “outlier” when you look over the box scores. Portland isn’t going to magically add someone to their roster who’s going to be able to defend what Dallas’ high-powered frontcourt duo is running, so look for big games from those two again tonight.

Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

The gold standard for treating a sprained ankle, and with any luck, what Dereck Lively will be doing Friday night.

There are times to get gutsy and push through some discomfort, and there are times to get right. Portland is dealing with injuries of their own, especially to their backcourt. DeAndre Ayton and Moses Brown both missed Wednesday’s game and will both likely miss Friday’s game as well, meaning third-string center Ibou Badji will likely get the start again.

He’s got a great story and it’s very cool how he made it to the NBA, but if Markieff Morris and Dwight Powell can’t be called upon to handle a rookie center getting his second-ever NBA start? Then that’s not good. Lively had just returned from an injury to the same ankle and as much as he and his Mavericks’ teammates would like him to be on the floor, it’s more important to make sure he’s available in the long term.

Protect the arc

Portland hasn’t won many games this season. Their nine wins currently put them above only San Antonio in the Western Conference. When you take a look at how they’ve opened up those nine wins, the only place where there’s a significant difference to their losses is the three-point percentage.

In their wins, Portland shoots 44% from three; in their losses, just 28%. There’s not a huge difference in terms of score – 27 points versus 26 points in the quarter respectively – but a hot shooting start can give a team confidence for the rest of the game and, as we’ve seen from the Mavericks themselves, players find a little more energy on the defensive side of the ball when they’re seeing their shots go down.

Hopefully, if Dallas can contain Portland’s shooters early in the game, they can cruise to another win at home.

How to watch

You can broadcast or stream the game on Bally Sports at 7:30 CST.