Winners of five of their last six games, the Dallas Mavericks now head to Portland to face Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers at the Moda Center.
The Mavs (19-30) are one of the hottest teams in the NBA, after impressive back-to-back wins versus the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers to begin the week.
Led behind a season-high 16 points and a career-high 17 rebounds by second-year sophomore center Salah Mejri, the Mavs continued their successful week with a 113-95 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center for their third straight win.
“They’ve been looking for me now that I’m a `hot player,” Mejri joked. “When it’s there, it’s there. I felt like I needed to join the party with everybody else because we had two big wins on back-to-backs.”
During their three-game winning streak, the Mavs have used solid play on both ends of the floor while pushing up the tempo on the offensive, boasting an 114.1 offensive rating to go along with a 101.1 defensive rating, good enough for fourth and fifth in the league, respectively. They are also fourth in steals (9.0/game), second in opponents points off turnovers (11.0) and first in turnovers (9.0).
The Hot Hand
While starting point guard Deron Williams has missed the last four games with sprained big toe, fourth-year guard Seth Curry has more than amicably stepped in to fill his role. During the last four games, Curry has averaged 20.7 points, 5.0 assists, 6.0 rebounds, while shooting 49 percent including 41 percent from three.
Williams, meanwhile, continues to rehab his way back from his latest injury while being the subject of trade rumors in a deal that would send him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. According to a report from Fox Sports Ohio, the Dallas Mavericks would be willing to party ways with Williams, assuming they were able to receive Cavs’ guard Iman Shumpert and a draft pick in return.
If Curry continues to play well in Williams’ absence, a Williams-for-Shumpert swap would seem more and more likely.
Matchup at Hand
The Trail Blazers have been on a bit of a hot streak of their own, having also won four of their past five games behind Lillard (26.2 ppg, 5.4 apg) and CJ McCollum (24.6 ppg) during that span.
“Two hot teams right now,” Portland center Mason Plumlee said. “We’re looking forward to the matchup.”
The two teams have split the 2016-17 season series with the road team taking both matchups. During the team’s last match-up, Lillard’s 29 points were almost enough to help erase the Mavs 24-point halftime advantage. The Mavs held on for a slim 96-95 victory led behind 28 points from Harrison Barnes and 23 points from Williams.
The Trail Blazers currently hold the eighth and final playoff seed in the Western Conference, with the Mavs sitting just 2.5 games back.
“We’re A Sh*t Team, But We’re An Underrated Sh*t Team” — Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle
“We’re playing at a good pace, and everybody that’s out there seems like they’re playing well.” — Seth Curry (via Mavs.com)
“I think we’re starting to hit a groove as a unit, a coaching staff and everybody.” – Wesley Matthews (via Mavs.com)
Guards J.J. Barea (left calf strain) and Andrew Bogut (right hamstring strain) are out. Deron Williams (left big toe sprain) is listed as doubtful.
The NBA announced Thursday that shooting guard Wesley Matthews will compete in the 2017 JBL Three-Point Contest during All-Star Weekend. Matthews is shooting
How to Watch
The Mavericks (19-30) vs Portland (22-28) tips-off 9:30 p.m. CT at the Moda Center. You can catch the game Nationally on ESPN and locally on Fox Sports Southwest.