(Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earl K. Sneed previews Friday night's matchup between the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers as the defending champions try to end their three-game homestand on a positive note to start a back-to-back.
Preview: Trail Blazers (26-29) at Mavericks (31-24)
DALLAS — It took 58 minutes, not 48, for the Dallas Mavericks to finally outlast the Portland Trail Blazers in a 97-94 double-overtime home win on Feb. 11.
Friday night, in the first game of a back-to-back and final matchup of a three-game homestand, the Mavericks (31-24) will try to do away with the Blazers in just four quarters as the defending champions continue their pursuit towards the postseason.
Bouncing back from Monday night’s 94-75 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers with a 95-85 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies two days later, the Mavs will carry a bit of momentum into their matchup with the Blazers before traveling to Memphis on Saturday. And with the playoff race still at the center of the Mavericks’ mindset, claiming a much-needed win over a Portland squad that’s on the outside looking in could go a long way towards securing prime postseason positioning.
“It was a good bounce back for us,” Mavs reserve guard Jason Terry said after Wednesday night’s win. “Obviously, we’re fighting with all of these teams for playoff positioning and this was a crucial game for us, as are all of them. It was a good win, but our focus now shifts to Portland.”
“[Wednesday night] was a good team win,” new addition Delonte West added. “You know, we came out flat (against the Clippers), got in the gym, got tons of shots up, got our legs back underneath us and we responded. And that’s the mark of a championship team.”
Taking advantage of a Grizzlies team that was playing the final game of three games in three nights, the Mavericks fixed two areas of concern: rebounding and points in the paint.
Outshooting the Grizzlies, 50 percent to 42.2 percent, the Mavs also capitalized off 10 rebounds apiece from leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki and backup big man Ian Mahinmi to claim a 45-40 edge on the boards. The advantage on the glass translated to a 44-36 margin in points in the paint as well.
“It was a collective effort,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “Mahinmi with 10, Dirk with 10, Brendan [Haywood] with five, [Shawn] Marion got a lot of big ones — he had seven. [Lamar] Odom had five. JET [Terry] had four. Everybody chipped in. That’s the kind of team we are; we don’t have one guy that’s going to go and get 15 rebounds a night. It’s just not how we’re set up. The attention to detail was much better on the boards.”
Now, the Mavericks will try to carry that success into Friday night’s matchup. The team will also try to contain Seagoville native and All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge, after he exploded for a game-high 33 points and 12 boards against the Mavs earlier in the season.
Meanwhile, the Blazers (26-29) enter the game just 6-6 since interim coach Kaleb Canales took charge after the firing of Nate McMillan, looking for their first consecutive wins since the end of January after Wednesday’s 101-88 home victory over New Jersey. But after three straight victories over Portland in the friendly confines of their home gym, the Mavericks will bid for a fourth before attempting to better their playoff position Saturday night against the Grizzlies.
“Every game down the stretch is critical. You can win two or lose two, either way. And that can make a big difference (as to) where you’re going to be in the playoffs or not in the playoffs at all,” Terry explained. “Knowing that and knowing we’re a championship-caliber team, we just have to continue to grind it out.”
Note: The Mavericks return to action at the American Airlines Center on Friday night when they conclude their homestand against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Mavericks lead the season series 1-0 after a 97-94 double-overtime home win on Feb. 11. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Single-game tickets are on sale and available at the American Airlines Center North Box Office, online at mavs.com, via phone by calling 214-747-MAVS or 1-800-4NBA-TIX and all Ticketmaster outlets (Fiesta Grocery Stores, Wal-Mart, Simon Mall in Garland and the Shops at Willow Bend in Plano).