Mavericks vs Blazers

One of two excellent Thursday night games, the Dallas Mavericks with their high powered offense, led by Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons and Monta Ellis, come to the Moda Center in order to play the Portland Trail Blazers with Damian Lillard finally finding his scoring form again, joining the consistent LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews to lead the team early this season.

A 3-1 start for the Dallas Mavericks isn’t all it’s cracked up to be: Their wins have come over the Jazz, Pelicans and Celtics, not the toughest of the bunch. Still, their only loss came against the Spurs, and they’ve averaging 115.7 points a night on 53.5% shooting through their last three wins. The best player and difference maker in those wins? Newcomer Chandler Parsons, a free agency (Restricted mind you) signing from Houston, averaging 23.3 points on 56.8% shooting.

He and Nowitzki combined to score 56 points in the win over the Boston Celtics as the duo missed just one 3-pointer out of nine attempts. But while there are a lot of pretty offensive numbers, including 17.8 points a night from Monta Ellis, there’s a big problem that has almost cost them two of their wins: The Mavericks fall apart each third quarter, with something disrupting their basketball once they come out of the locker room.

In the wins, they’ve been outscored 135-88 by the teams they’ve beaten, and they’ve been allowing an incredible 33.8 points in the third quarter, by far the worst in the NBA.

That’s an interesting contrast to the Portland Trail Blazers, maybe the best second-half defensive team so far in the league, without a record (2-2) to show for it. They’re allowing just 41.5 points and 36.3% from the field during the third and fourth quarters, and have held their last two opponents to below 20 points in the third quarter. Nowitzki and Parsons are averaging a combined 6.8 points on 29.6% from the field in third quarters.

LaMarcus Aldridge has been the team’s leading scorer so far this season, averaging 22.8 points a night. He made way for Damian Lillard to finally put on a big offensive performance, scoring 27 points after failing to hit 20 in the first three games. Lillard made it a very difficult night for the Cavaliers with a combined effort from three (5-of-10) and his ability to attack the rim, something the Cavaliers failed to protect. Even Robin Lopez had a blast, scoring 19 points.

The two most important players for the Blazers don’t always pull off big numbers, although Wesley Matthews is scoring 19.3 points a night this season. Both he and Nicolas Batum, shooting only 37.1% from the field for 8.8 points a night, are the team’s most important defensive players, who’ll probably be covering Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons for most of the game. They’ll also be helping Aldridge out on the impossible Nowitzki, and how well they perform on defense might be the most important factor for the Blazers, along with possibly getting rare help from their bench.

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