Trail Blazers vs Mavericks Tuesday, 03/15/11 AT 07:00PM

Portland Heads To Dallas To Steal Opener

  1. Written by: Grant Lucas  / avg. rating: 5.0

    For the second consecutive year, the Portland Trail Blazers will kick off the NBA Playoffs as the Western Conference's sixth seed. This time around, the Trail Blazers (48-34) look to escape the first round but will need to go through the Dallas Mavericks (57-25). Tipoff at American Airlines Center in Dallas is scheduled for 6:30 PM on Saturday night.

    Projected to start for Portland are Gerald Wallace, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby, Wesley Matthews and Andre Miller.

    These clubs split the season series - two games apiece - with the host squads coming up victorious by eight points or fewer.

    The Trail Blazers notched their best shooting percentage against the Mavericks, hitting nearly 48 percent of their attempts, and, although Dallas shot 51 percent from the floor, Portland outscored the Mavericks 190-158 in the paint. The Trail Blazers did the same with second-chance points, having the 55-48 advantage in the area thanks to a 45-28 offensive rebounding edge.

    Dallas hosted the series kickoff on Dec. 15 and saw a 17-point lead disappear late in the game, as Portland surged back to knot things up at 93. Ultimately, however, the Mavericks held their ground and escaped with a 103-98 win. Aldridge dominated with 35 points and 10 boards, but Dirk Nowitzki tallied 12 of his 21 total points in the final period to regain the edge and claim the victory.

    The next time around, Dallas had no such control. Each quarter was decided by three points or less. It was the closing minutes that determined the outcome, during which the Mavericks outscored Portland 12-4 in order to claim an 84-81 win in Dallas. Aldridge led all scorers with 28 points to go along with 10 rebounds, but the Mavericks' balanced scoring - paced by Jason Terry and DeShawn Stevenson's 18 points apiece - fended off a Portland comeback.

    In the third meeting between these teams, the Mavericks came out hot, connecting on their first 11 field goal attempts en route to a 59.7 percent shooting mark. The Trail Blazers, however, maintained control and held on for a 104-101 victory thanks to 30 points and eight boards by Aldridge and Brandon Roy's 21 points - 16 of which came in the last 14 minutes of play.

    Portland attained the shooting touch in the series finale, hitting nearly 62 percent of its attempts in the first half and never trailing throughout the game, leading by as many as 21 points. During the second quarter, the Trail Blazers shot 80 percent from the floor en route to a season-high 38-point period. The Trail Blazers eventually won 104-96 behind Wallace's 19 points and Aldridge's 18. They each also collected eight boards.

    Aldridge did most of the damage for Portland, putting up his best number against any other Western Conference team on the road. Overall against Dallas, Aldridge netted 27.8 points per game, but when visiting American Airlines Center, he put up 31.5 points and 10 boards per contest.

    For the Mavericks, it was Nowitzki leading the way with 21.7 points per game on 52.5 percent shooting, but Dallas was coaxed into an average of 13.5 turnovers per game, compared to Portland's eight.

    Historically, Portland and Dallas have met up 14 times in the postseason, with the Trail Blazers holding a 9-5 overall edge and a 6-1 advantage at the Rose Garden.

    Sidelined for Portland are Greg Oden and Elliot Williams, who are out with knee injuries.

    Game 1 of this series will air on KGW NewsChannel 8 with Mike Barrett and Mike Rice, as well as on national television via ESPN. Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey will have the call on 95.5 FM The Game.

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