And let the up and down emotional rollercoaster know as the 09/10 Blazer season continue as the Blazers take on the *cue ominous music* ….Texas Two-Step.
Unfortunately for the Blazers, we’re not talking about the country line dance, we’re talking about back-to-back road games in the state of Texas. It starts tonight in Dallas against the Mavericks and ends tomorrow in San Antonio. It remains one of the tougher road trips in the NBA considering how good the Texas teams have been this decade. Blazer fans need to pray for a split as that would mean they would come home from this rough road trip at 2-2, no worse than when they left the Rose City. A win tonight would be perfect. But if you’re a person who likes numbers, it is not pointing towards anything good going down in the American Airlines Center. Check this out:
Dallas has beat Portland in 19 of the last 21 matchups period. In Dallas, Portland has lost 17 of the last 19, including 11 in a row. The Blazers last victory in Dallas came on January 26th 2003 when Bonzi Wells dropped 18 and 14 and Jeff McInnis and Antonio Daniels were not (complete)jokes. Yeah…it’s been awhile.
The encouraging (if there is one) part about this stretch of tough games while injury depleted is that we’re being tested and we should be growing. Against these teams you have to play physical, smart, complete basketball. And for the most part even against elevated talent the Blazers have found themselves in winnable battles.
Tonight they face a Dallas team who is quite content to use Portland’s fall as a reason to jump back into the Elite of the Western Conference. Dallas has won 15 of their last 20 games which tells you they are playing basketball at a pretty high level. You know this Mavs team. And you know that they are chock full of Blazer-Killers. Everytime Dallas plays Portland it’s like they get on stage and say “6 million ways to die, choose one”. Dirk Nowitzki has found ways to abuse the Blazers time after time for years now. He’s averaging 26 points a game, shooting 47 percent and has no teeth in his elbow anymore so he should be good to go. I’m concerned as to who is going to guard him. Is LaMarcus ready for the challenge?? Juwan Howard?? Killer number two on my list…Jason Terry. The man with the headband scares me. He always seems to hit a clutch shot against Portland, whether its to bring the Mavs back, push them ahead or break our backs. You and I both know it. The Jet is averaging 16 off the bench, you know he is going to put shots up. It stings twice as much when he makes the shots because as soon as he let’s them go I know they are going in. Damn. Jason Kidd has quietly shut all the people up who said he was washed up and has found a way to re-invent himself…as a three-point shooter. Yes. He’s shooting 41 percent from behind the arc and averaging 9.3 assists a game. He’s still got it. Josh Howard has returned, Shawn Marion is effective and Erick Dampier is in a contract year. You can see why the Mavs scare me a bit.
For Portland, they are obviously going to need a great effort on both ends of the floor. If they can get great and efficient efforts from Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge they have a shot. If they can get Martell Webster and Steve Blake to make shots they have a shot. But they either need great efforts from their superstars or some sort of balanced effort to keep up.
Keys to the Game
-Energy and Effort. Portland needs this. Dallas isn’t a particularly great defensive team and is a team that can come out flat. A great first quarter will send a message and make life easier.
-All eyes on you LaMarcus. You’ve got a tall task on your shoulders tonight, but you’re in Texas so I’ve got confidence. You’ve got to find a way to elevate your game to All-Star status. I firmly believe we’re only going as far as LMA takes us. Not only that but he’s going to have to guard Dirk which is no simple task.
-Beware of their second unit: Terry and Barea lead the way of a second unit that can change the pace. Portland has to be careful of these two.
-Guard the three-point shot. I’m pretty sure we just gave up 7 threes to Quentin Richardson, so I’m a little concerned here.
Tags: Blazers Mavericks Brandon Roy Dallas Mavericks Dallas Portland Dirk Nowitzki Jason Kidd Jason Terry Josh Howard LaMarcus Aldridge Mark Cuban Martell Webster Mavs Portland Trail Blazers Shawn Marion Steve Blake