Dallas Mavericks vs. Portland Trail Blazers Pick & Prediction JANUARY 5th 2024

Although the Portland Trail Blazers have already seen Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic three times this season, they have yet to figure out how to slow him down.

Doncic has torched Portland for 37.7 points per game, but the Trail Blazers will have one last chance to try and figure him out when they visit Dallas on Friday night for the finale of the teams’ four-game season series.

The Mavericks are 3-0 against Portland this season, and Doncic is a big reason why.

In addition to his gaudy scoring numbers, Doncic has also posted averages of 8.0 rebounds and 8.3 assists against the Blazers. He most recently went for 41 points, six rebounds and five assists to lead host Dallas to a 126-97 rout of Portland on Wednesday night.

“You can throw anything and everything at Luka, and we always try, and he’s seen it,” Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. “He has an answer for everything you throw at him.

“But that doesn’t mean you don’t throw it at him. You’ve got to just try every single night. You want to compete against him.”

Kyrie Irving, Doncic’s backcourt mate, also shined on Wednesday, pouring in 29 points to go along with nine boards and five assists. He scored 22 of his points in the first half.

“I think it started at the tip of the game in setting the tone, setting our mentality in how we wanted to play for the rest of the game,” Irving said. “I just wanted to take it upon myself to galvanize the group and stay aggressive in those first few possessions and really get a good feel of where my body is.”

Shaedon Sharpe paced Portland with 16 points, while Anfernee Simons netted 15 in the loss. Matisse Thybulle chipped in 12 points, but the Blazers continued to scuffle and have now dropped 12 of their past 15 games.

While Wednesday’s result on the scoreboard was anything but encouraging, Simons remains optimistic heading into Friday’s rematch.

“It’s one of those games we have to watch and look over and see how we can adjust the next game we play,” Simons said of Wednesday’s effort. “You know, just go back and adjust to the things we can do and try and take away.”

One thing the Trail Blazers could have working in their favor is depth, or rather, Dallas’ lack thereof.

The Mavericks were already without guard Dante Exum because of a right heel contusion, and they then lost rookie center Dereck Lively II and forward Grant Williams to ankle sprains sustained in the second half of Wednesday’s contest. Lively II and Williams are listed as questionable for Friday’s game.

“Ankle sprains. Mild. Getting treatment,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said of the injuries to Lively and Williams. “We’ll see how they feel.”

Exum is listed as doubtful for Friday, but the seventh-year guard has played well as he continues to revitalize his NBA career.

In 13 games in December, Exum averaged 15.3 points, 4.5 assists and 3.8 boards while playing more than 30 minutes per night.

Meanwhile, Portland center Deandre Ayton (knee) will miss his sixth straight game. He did not travel with the team for Wednesday’s meeting with the Mavericks.

–Field Level Media

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