Blazers Starting 5: PG Damian Lillard, SG Wesley Matthews, SF Nicolas Batum, PF LaMarcus Aldridge, C J.J. Hickson
Mavericks Starting 5: PG Darren Collison, SG, O.J. Mayo, SF Shawn Marion, PF Elton Brand, C Brandon Wright
This is one of the best times in the NBA season. The highs are the highest, the lows are the lowest, the swings are epic with teams jumping or dropping two or three spots in the standings with the passing of every game. Right now much of basketball Twitter is discussing whether or not three games are meaningless, or if you can pick the Rookie of the Year and MVP based on the first few of an 82-game season.
Over the course of three games, the Blazers have proven two things: they might just be better than we all projected, and right now they’re only about six guys deep. Portland finishes up their first little road tilt in Dallas, and if they can follow up their overtime victory at Houston with another big road win when might be able to extend that positive small sample size just a little bit.
Dallas is going to be the typical team Portland will struggle against. Even without Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks will try to control the paint. Guys like Brandon Wright and Shawn Marion will attack the offensive glass all night, if Portland can’t keep them off the offensive boards it could be a long night. The Blazers might have their biggest advantage on the wings. Although Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo make a dynamic pair, I like Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews in those match-ups.
Of course, it will be Portland’s bench that will be the biggest question mark. If the Blazers can find somebody (anybody I don’t care who) to give a boost in scoring off the bench, Portland should at least be able to hang in this one. If not? It’s hard to really count on winning a lot of games without a bench.
What to Watch for
- Damian Lillard. Damian Lillard. Damian Lillard. Is he going to have a game where we decide that maybe the hype is too much? After all, Oscar Robertson is probably one of the greatest point guards ever, Dame can be excused if he falls short of having that type of career. Saturday in Houston looked that his come-down game. It was until overtime. I really like the match-up with Collison. If head coach Terry Stotts likes it too, and gives Damian the chance to create for himself, look for the opposite of a come-down game. Twenty points three nights in a row is nice. How nice would a 30-point game be? He has it in him.
- LaMarcus Aldridge always steps his game up in Dallas.
- The Mavericks are coming off a huge win over the Bobcats. So far they’ve gone win, loss, win. Will they come out ready for Portland, and if they don’t will the Blazers be able to take advantage.