Dallas Mavericks head to Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday for the first of two back-to-back games between the two teams.
The Blazers host the second clash on Sunday, in what could be a fascinating double-header between two ambitious Western Conference teams.
Portland made a strong start to the season before their challenge faded – but they are still very much in contention and they could force their way back into the play-in spots if they can make the most of home advantage this weekend.
The Mavs sit in fourth place in the West with a 24-19 record and they will be looking to mount a serious challenge in the postseason after reaching the conference finals last term.
|What||Dallas Mavericks @ Portland Trail Blazers|
|Where||Moda Center, Portland|
|When||03:00, Sunday 15th January 2023|
|How to watch||bet365 Sports Live Streaming & NBA League Pass|
|Odds (Money Line)||Dallas Mavericks 1/1, Portland Trail Blazers 5/6|
Portland go into this game in woeful form as they have lost their last five and have nine defeats in their last 11 games.
The Blazers now have a 19-22 overall record, but they are still very much in the mix in a competitive Western Conference and even a top six seed and an automatic playoff spot isn't out of the question.
Portland's troubles have largely come on the road as they have four wins in their last six at home and the visit of the out-of-sorts Mavs looks a good opportunity for them to end their slump.
Dallas embarked on a seven-game winning run at the end of December but have lost three of their last five games. That run started with a 29-point defeat to Boston Celtics and that loss appears to have knocked their confidence, although an overtime win at Los Angeles Lakers last time out may prove to be a turning point if they can back that up with a win at Portland.
The Mavs' road form has been a concern all season and they need to find a way to win away if they are to launch a serious bid for the championship. Dallas have an 8-13 away record and have two defeats in their last three trips – but they have dominated their recent meetings with their hosts on Saturday.
The Mavs claimed a convincing 130-110 win over Portland the last time these teams met in December, with star man Luka Doncic managing 33 points and nine assists in that win in Dallas.
The visitors have won each of the last six clashes between the two teams and most of those games have been convincing victories, with Dallas outscoring Portland by a whopping 150 points across those meetings.
The Blazers need to turn the tide if they are to win either Saturday or Sunday's games, but the form of star man Damian Lillard suggests they are about to turn a corner.
Lillard produced the 13th 50-point game of his career against Cleveland Cavaliers last time out but it wasn't enough to prevent a six-point defeat for the Blazers.
The guard has scored at least 30 points in his last three games, and with Lillard in this kind of scoring form his team will always have a chance – if he gets a bit more support from his team-mates.
Dallas superstar and MVP frontrunner Luka Doncic has essentially been carrying his team all season and once again he will be key to the Mavs' chances of claiming victories on Saturday and Sunday.
Doncic leads the NBA in scoring as he is averaging 34.3 points-per-game, with 9.0 rebounds and 8.8 assists.
The Slovenian had a triple-double in the win over the Lakers with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists, and big performances from either Doncic or Lillard in these two games may ultimately decide which team claims the victories.
Lillard is rated as questionable due to an ankle issue but that was also his status prior to the game against the Cavs, and he ended up playing for 40 minutes and producing one of his best games of the season.
There is a chance he could see his minutes limited or be rested entirely for one of the meetings with Dallas, given the fact Portland are playing on consecutive nights against a physical team.
Dallas' recent record against Portland is encouraging but their away form remains patchy, and both of these match-ups are likely to be close games. That is reflected in the Point Spread and the Mavs can be backed at 10/11 with a +1 Spread.