Game time and location: Thursday, Mar. 5, 10:30 p.m. EST on ESPN, Moda Center – Portland, Ore.
Projected starting lineups:
Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez
Dallas Mavericks: Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler
The Mavericks visit the Trail Blazers for another good matchup between two Western Conference playoff teams. Portland is third in the West while Dallas is sixth but only one and a half games separate the two. These matchups are getting more important down the stretch, so both of these teams would like to get big win here.
Portland is coming off of a huge comeback win in overtime over the Los Angeles Clippers last night. Seemingly out of it, the Trail Blazers rallied from down 10 with under three minutes left to overcome one of Lillard’s worst games of his career. Batum stepped up in his place which is huge for the Trail Blazers, and it seems like the Arron Afflalo trade is working out nicely. Portland looks to win their fifth straight tonight.
Dallas has been off since Monday when they beat the New Orleans Pelicans in a game where they were missing a few key players. The new addition of Amar’e Stoudemire has looked pretty good at times. Rondo has been been struggling since he was acquired by the Mavericks, but when this team is fully healthy and playing well they can beat anyone. They will look to get a win in the first game of a short three-game road trip.
This is the third matchup out of four this season between these two teams. They split the first two, but both teams have a little different look since the mid-season acquisitions. The key for the Trail Blazers is to dominate the glass like they did in the first meeting (53-34). If they can do that, then they will likely get another big win. Dallas’ key to winning is defending the three-point line. Portland is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league, and Dallas is one of the worst at defending it. If they can’t contain the three it will be a long night for them.
Dallas may have a little advantage here even though they are on the road, because Portland is playing the second of a back-to-back with the first being an overtime game. The Trail Blazers don’t typically come out sluggish though, so I think the home-court advantage will be too much for Dallas. This will definitely be a tightly contested game but a win for Portland nonetheless.
Prediction: Portland 100, Dallas 95
Brian Brennan is a Portland Trail Blazers writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @b2brennan.