Tonight, at 5:30 Pacific time at the Airplane Hut in Dallas, Texas, the Portland Trail Blazers (42-19) will compete on the basketball court against the Dallas Mavericks (36-26, .581 Winning Pct.; Offense: 110.9 points per 100 possessions 110.9, 4th in NBA; Defense 108.7 points allowed per 100 possessions, 23rd in NBA; 8th place in the Western Conference).
This is the first game on Le Voyage de la Mort for the Blazers, a five game road trip in which they play the Mavericks, Spurs, Rockets, Grizzlies, and Pelicans. Tat’s three playoff teams, one team that would be a playoff team if they hadn’t been snakebitten all year, and the Pelicans.
This gauntlet comes off the heels of a pretty easy stretch for the Blazers that they handled pretty well, even with an insane run of injuries to the team’s big men. They did lose to the Lakers, who are currently losing by nearly fifty points on national television, but other than that they grinded along and got a small pile of Ws for the road. Hopefully they don’t end up spending them all on this road trip.
These teams have met twice so far this season; the first meeting was a Monta Ellis drilled jumper away from being a Blazer victory, the second a Blazer whooping that had featured a tragic garbage time near-collapse.
Of all the non-tanking teams the Blazers are playing on this, frankly, completely unfair road trip, the Mavs probably present the best opportunity for victory. The Mavs’ 23rd ranked defense will have trouble with the Blazers’ 2nd ranked offense and the Blazers have played the Mavs well for the last few years. Priorities on defense include goading Monta Ellis into low percentage shots and, uh, hoping Dirk doesn’t decide to slice them open and choke them to death with their own intestines.
Look at this nonsense. This is high grade efficiency pornography. Dirk even spots his opponents the corners as either an act of mercy or to keep himself interested. 70% at the rim! I don’t do anything at a rate of 70%. This is coming off a mediocre and injury addled season that was the worst season of Dirk’s career as a notable relevant player. Compare it to LaMarcus’s chart this year:
This is not meant to be a shade throw at Aldridge. He carries a higher usage load and is a better rebounder. But if Aldridge is a terrific midrange player, Dirk is a German engineered freak — the spirit of a hawk transported into the body and mind of a very thin silverback gorilla with delicate hands. If you’re a kitten, he will absolutely destroy you by squeezing too tight and then fake crying like, “Oh no, my kitten friend,” but he will have done it merely for the rush of destroying something weaker and smaller than he.