Preview; 4-1 Dallas at 2-3 Portland

Dallas is coming off an emotional road win over the team that upset them in last years playoffs. Portland is coming off a more difficult than expected win over Memphis at home. This has all the makings of an upset opportunity for Portland. Unfortunately, it is not going to happen.

For whatever reason the Blazers insist on running their first couple of plays for Channing Frye. These are also (thankfully) usually the last two plays they run for him. Fortunately, they only have to contend with DeSagana Diop, a guy who will play defense and rebound but pretty much only scores on broken plays and offensive rebounds.

Edge: Even

Power Forward
Dirk Nowitski was the MVP last year. His numbers are down a bit this year and he has struggled against Portland in the last few meetings. On the other side of the ball, this is one of Portland's strongest positions. Aldridge is coming off a huge game and this will be a good opportunity for him to step up and show he is a prime time player. On the down side, at times he is sometimes foul prone so that might be a concern. He is good enough to play it even on a good night or even outscore his opponent if Portland feeds him the ball, runs plays for him, and gets out in transition. Still, when you are up against the reigning is a tough night.

Edge: Dallas

Small Forward
I am not convinced Portland knows how good Webster can be. They hide him for far too much of the game. If they ran a few plays for him and looked for him a bit more often he could be a 20 - 25 point scorer. Instead he is locked in about 16 - 18 points almost every night. Across the way we find Josh Howard, the Maverick's leading scorer this year at 24 per game.

Edge: Dallas

Shooting Guard
As always, Roy is the Blazers best player. Stackhouse can score with anybody but Roy is a better all-around player. This will be a fun battle to watch.

Edge: Portland

Point Guard
Devin Harris reportedly will not be there so Jason Terry returns to the starting line-up more than likely. Terry, like Jack, has exploded in a reserve role. But whether starting or coming off the bench, he is lethal. Blake is a solid point guard who gets the Blazers into their offense well and does a good job of distributing the ball but he is not in Terry's class.

Edge: Dallas

Jarrett Jack has been tearing it up since being moved to the bench. He relishes that role. Unfortunately, the rest of the bench has been struggling. James Jones is out with knee issues (where have I heard that before?) and Outlaw is struggling to find his shot. The Mavericks are missing Eddie Jones and with Terry in the starting line-up they lose a lot of punch. But they do have solid players in Devean George and Brandon Bass and the rest of their team fills their roles well.

Edge: even

This is a good opportunity for the Blazers to pull off the upset. But to do so, they have to play their zone better than they did against the Grizzlies. Dallas simply has too many good shooters to get away with leaving them open. Defensively, if the continue playing their swiss-cheese defense they could see Dallas eclipse the 110 mark easily.

On the other side of the ball, Golden State showed the way. Dallas is susceptible to penetration. It gets them scrambling and they give up a lot of second chance opportunities when someone penetrates. If Portland's guards, Jack, Blake, and Roy, penetrate and their bigs crash the boards they can wreak havoc and put a lot of points on the board. This might be a game where Sergio Rodriguez can do major damage with his ability to get inside almost at will. Webster needs to hit his open shots, which he should get plenty of, and Aldridge and Przybilla need to work the boards.

If those things happen and Outlaw comes out of his funk you will see an upset win by Portland. Otherwise, look for Dallas to win by double digits.

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