Preview: Mavs kick-start road trip in Portland against shaky Blazers
Preview: Mavericks (19-25) at Trail Blazers (22-22)
Mavs kick-start road trip in Portland against shaky Blazers
But, with an opportunity to make up ground against teams ahead of them for postseason positioning, the Mavericks will have a chance to begin their hike up the standings against the Portland Trail Blazers to kick-start their road trip Tuesday night.
“I think we had a tough stretch there from the middle of December to the 10th of January, and since then we’ve had a nice homestand with a bunch of games, had four days off and didn’t have back-to-backs going. So it was a nice chance for us to make a little run and win some games at home, and now it’s time to see if we can take that momentum on the road,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said after moving ahead of Allen Iverson (24,368) for 18th on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 18 points in Sunday’s 110-95 home win over Phoenix.
He added: “We’ve got some tough games against some teams that are right there with us or ahead of us, so it should be fun to go back out on the road and see what we’ve got. We all know Portland over the years is one of the best home teams in this league. The building is loud and crazy, and we’ll see if we’re poised enough to be in the game and hopefully steal one down the stretch.”
“It gives everyone a confidence boost going on the road here,” leading scorer O.J. Mayo said of the Mavs’ recent stretch. “Obviously there are teams that are right above us and we need to go and get these wins. It’s an important week for us.”
“You know, road games are harder without question,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added. “Right now, every game we can get is huge for us, because of the situation we’re in. We’re fighting to get into the playoff picture. We’ve made up some ground, and we’re looking at this period before the All-Star break as a really important stretch for us. And these four games are big, and we’ve got to be very process-oriented in our approach. You don’t go into it thinking about, ‘Hey, we need to win, we need to win, we need to win.’ We know we need to win. We need to concentrate on the things that put us in the best position to play our best. That’s going to help us get the result we need.”
Meanwhile, the Mavs will try to contain the deadly duo of All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge and Rookie of the Year frontrunner Damian Lillard.
Aldridge is averaging 27.0 points in his last five outings versus Dallas, while Lillard was held to just 13 points on 2-of-13 from the field in the first meeting between the two teams. The Blazers are 15-8 this season at home but are just 3-7 in their last 10 games overall. And after Mayo exploded for 32 points on 12-for-18 shooting and 6-of-8 from 3-point range without the services of Nowitzki the first time the squads faced off, the Mavs may again call upon the sharpshooter to carry the torch Tuesday night.
Note: The Mavericks head back out on the road for the beginning of a four-game road trip, touching down in Portland first for Tuesday night’s battle against the Trail Blazers. The Mavericks lead the season series 1-0 after handing the Blazers a 114-91 thumping in Dallas back on Nov. 5. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 9 p.m. CT.