Dallas Mavericks at Portland Trail Blazers (-2.5)
After a long stretch of road struggles, the Portland Trail Blazers (40-19, 25-6 home) swept the Kings and Clippers on a mini two-game California swing. Tonight, the Blazers return home to take on the Dallas Mavericks (40-22, 19-12 away), whom they lead by just a game and a half in the Western Conference standings.
The back-to-back road wins extended Portland’s overall win streak to five. In last night’s 98-93 OT win over the Clippers, power forward LaMarcus Aldridge returned to form, scoring 29 points and adding nine boards.
Usually reliable point guard Damian Lillard struggled for Portland, shooting 1 of 13 (0-7 from beyond the arc) and scoring only five points. But the Weber State product isn’t concerned with personal stats.
“The most important thing was that we played the type of basketball we needed to down the stretch to win the game, and I still found a way to impact the game,” Lillard said.
Tonight, the Blazers will be facing a Mavericks team that has owned them of late, winning five of the last seven head-to-head.
After losing two straight, Dallas rebounded on Monday beating the New Orleans Pelicans, 102-93. The Mavs were playing without Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons, but had four starters score 14 points or more and pulled away in the third quarter.
“That’s why it is a team,” said Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle. “We’re a strength-in-numbers type of team.”
Point guard Rajon Rondo was among the starters who hit double-digits, scoring 19 points on 9/15 shooting. Rondo was returning after a one-game, team-issued suspension following an on-court dust-up with Carlisle. The suspension could wind up being a turning point for Rondo in Dallas
“He’s done a great job,” Carlisle said. “Again, he’s learning what it takes to play with our players and vice versa. We’re on a path where we’re going to figure it out. He’s looking to be aggressive. He’s looking to make aggressive paint and rim attacks, and when he can finish it’s great and when he draws one or two guys, he can find the right guy. That’s where his special ability is.”
The Mavs could have both Chandler and Parsons back tonight, but considering the team is 5-9 ATS as an away dog, consider taking the Trail Blazers and laying the points (-2.5).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)