Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

Blazers at Mavs Preview

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Trail Blazers at Mavericks - 9:35 PM ET, ESPN

Betting Odds: Dallas -5 ½
Provided by DraftKings (IN, NJ & PA only)
Odds subject to change

The Mavericks (26-15 SU, 21-18-2) look to continue a productive week that has seen them trim the Rockets’ Southwest Division lead to a half-game entering Friday’s action thanks to Houston’s two-game skid and their own three-game surge that continued on Wednesday in Sacramento.

The Blazers (18-24 SU, 16-25-1 ATS) are hunting their own three-game win streak with an upset here hoping to match what would be their second-longest run of prosperity in what has thus far been a wildly disappointing season. Portland opened its three-game road trip with a 117-107 upset over the Rockets on Wednesday, holding James Harden to 13 points, his lowest-scoring output of the season.

The trip culminates in Oklahoma City on Saturday night but Portland can’t afford any looking ahead considering it has alternated wins and losses in its six 2020 road games. The Blazers have won in Toronto and Houston but have suffered losses to the Knicks and short-handed Timberwolves, which should be indicative of how inconsistent they’ve been outside of the Moda Center, where they’re a Northwest Division-worst 9-14 and have won just two of nine (3-6 ATS) even after the conquest in Houston. Combined with a sub-.500 home mark, those struggles have Portland on the outside looking in if the playoffs were to start today as it opens play 1.5 games back of Memphis for the eighth and final Western Conference spot.

Carmelo Anthony has been sharp this month and is averaging 17.9 points so far in January, registering double-doubles in two of the Blazers’ last three games, so he’s clearly emerged as an x-factor for the team’s shorthanded frontcourt. In Portland’s four wins this month, he’s averaged 19.8 points and 6.8 points, making eight of 15 3-point shots.

In their losses, he’s averaged just 16 points while shooting 6-for-19 from beyond the arc. He closed out December shooting 36 percent during a 1-4 run for the Blazers, so his resurgence is a welcome sight for a franchise that must decide whether to be buyers or sellers with the trade deadline approaching. This will be his first game against the Mavericks, who lost the only meeting between the teams to date back on Oct. 27.

Luka Doncic had 29 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in a 121-119 home defeat that featured a crucial replay reversal in the closing minute in addition to a Damian Lillard go-ahead layup that helped the Blazers rally on the road despite not holding a lead through the first three quarters. The Blazers cashed as 2 ½-point underdogs. CJ McCollum led Portland with 35 points while Kristaps Porzingis scored a season-high 32 points, his largest output since December of 2017. The 23 shots and 10 3-pointers he attempted in that game remain his highs for the season, but it’s unlikely he’ll be as aggressive here if he suits up for the first time since Dec. 29 due to recurring knee soreness. The plan is to throw him out there after a nine-game absence if he’s feeling up to it after warming up prior to tip-off.

Portland head coach Terry Stotts was a key assistant on Rick Carlisle’s staff when Dallas won the NBA title back in 2011 so the two know one another well. Three of the last four meetings between these teams have seen the final score top the posted total with 239 or more points accumulated. Portland is 3-2 against Doncic and have won six of nine in the series, but Carlisle still holds a 16-13 head-to-head edge against the Stotts-led Blazers. Doncic dished out a career-best 17 assists against the Kings on Wednesday despite often dealing with the defense of the pesky and athletic De’Aaron Fox. While Porzingis is Dallas’ lone injury concern, Portland remains without wing Rodney Hood an big men Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins and Skal Labissiere, none of whom are returning soon. Mario Hezonja is listed as probable with a back issue.

Best of the Rest

Timberwolves at Pacers (-8.5), 7:05 p.m. ET: With Karl-Anthony Towns dealing with an illness after finally being ready to return from a knee issue that has kept him out since Dec. 13, a span of 15 games, it’s vital you get clarification on his availability prior to wagering on this one. Minnesota traded point guard Jeff Teague to Atlanta in addition to glue guy Traveon Graham on Thursday, getting back shooter Allen Crabbe. Shabazz Napier will continue to start for the Wolves and rookie Jarrett Culver looks to continue his development. Andrew Wiggins went scoreless in the second-half of Minnesota’s 104-99 home loss to these same Pacers on Wednesday.

Domantas Sabonis overcame knee soreness and tied a season-high with 29 points but would face a more daunting task against Towns than he did versus Gorgui Dieng. The Timberwolves have failed to win or cover in three straight and opened December with a similar streak that ended up lasting eight games without an ATS win and 11 straight losses before they finally got on the board for the month on Dec. 26. That run essentially ended their high hopes for the season and featured Towns’ injury.

Wizards at Raptors (-10/229), 7:05 p.m. ET: Toronto has won six consecutive games in this series and got Marc Gasol back from a hamstring injury on Wednesday. Although there were some conditioning issues due to Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell returning on Sunday, the Raptors raced out to a 30-point second-quarter lead at Oklahoma City.

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet remains out with his hammy issue but may be back this weekend. Bradley Beal has overcome his shoulder trouble to return to the Wizards’ lineup, joining center Thomas Bryant and Davis Bertans in battling back from injuries to get back on the court. The ‘under’ has prevailed in four of Washington’s last five games, which is notable since it has been so porous defensively all season. Toronto won the lone meeting this season 122-118 at home on Dec. 20 but failed to cover, which began a 1-5 run on the road (2-4 ATS) for the Wizards. This will be just their third road game in 2020.

Heat at Thunder (-1), 8:05 p.m. ET: This is the only NBA game on Friday’s schedule featuring teams with winning records and gives Miami an opportunity to improve on a 10-11 road record. The Heat have dropped four of five outside of South Florida, including back-to-back setbacks at Brooklyn and New York over the weekend. Interestingly, the Heat have beaten the last three opponents they’ve faced on the road with winning records (Pacers, 76ers, Mavs) but are 0-5 against teams with sub-.500 marks.

OKC could be very vulnerable if centers Steven Adams (knee contusion) and Nerlens Noel (ankle sprain) can’t go. The ‘over’ is on a 4-1 run in games involving Miami and has cashed in three straight involving the Thunder. Given the rumors of Miami’s interest in OKC point guard Chris Paul, it will be fun to monitior his matchup with rookie Kendrick Nunn and sixth man Goran Dragic. These teams split last season’s meetings and won’t meet again until March 23.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]

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