After failing to capitalize on a struggling Sacramento Kings team last night, the Dallas Mavericks (10-8) now head to Portland to complete the second night of a road back-to-back. The Trail Blazers (7-11) also come into tonight’s match up on the second night of a back-to-back, after falling to the LA Clippers on the road 102-87 on Monday night.
Tonight marks the emotional return to Portland for Wesley Matthews for the first time since signing with the Mavericks in the offseason. Matthews played the previous five seasons with Portland, becoming a fan favorite, before tearing his Achilles back in March ending his season, and ultimately his tenure as Trail Blazers.
“I don’t know what my emotions are going to be like,” Matthews said of his return, telling reporters he would forgo his signature arrow celebration tonight out of respect for the Blazers’ fans according to Mavs.com
While Matthews became one of the best perimeter shooters in the league during his time in Portland, he has struggled to re-create that same kind of magic that led the Mavericks to sign him to a max five-year, $70 million deal this offseason. While he remains highly regarded as one of the better defenders in league, offensively he has struggled, shooting just 34 percent from the field, including a miserable 31 percent from three.
Having split the season series last year, the Blazers coming into tonight’s game with a completely different team than the one that one 51 games last year and clinched the Northwest Division title. After Matthews bolted Portland for Dallas and forward LaMarcus Aldridge joined forces with Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs, the Trail Blazers ensured point guard Damian Lillard wasn’t going anywhere, locking up with a five-year extension.
To begin their rebuilding years, the Blazers added youngsters Noah Vonleh, Mason Plumlee, Ed Davis and of course, Mavericks fan favorite Al-Farouq Aminu (11.5 points, 7.7 rebounds) this offseason. While Aminu hasn’t quite lived up to the 4-year, $30 million contract he signed in the offseason, he has been a solid addition for Portland and continues to pest on the defensive end.
Following the Mavs six-game win streak in early November, the Dallas Mavericks have now dropped four of their last five. And while this team still works to get into basketball shape after getting healthy, they need to capitalize on the lower tiered, rebuilding teams like the Trail Blazers, in a crowded Western Conference in a game they should and need to win.
Portland: center Chris Kaman (right ankle) is doubtful.
Mavs: guard J.J. Barea (right ankle sprain) is out.
How to Watch:
The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest, beginning with the pre-game show at 8:30 p.m. CST.