NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks Preview, Predictions & Betting Picks

Damian Lillard: Portland Trail Blazers vs Dallas Mavericks predictionsThe NBA’s Western Conference playoff race is going to be a bloodbath this season. Pretty much the entire conference of 15 teams thinks they can quality as a top-eight seed.

Two teams with very realistic hopes at the playoffs are the 2-0 Dallas Mavericks and the 1-1 Portland Trail Blazers. The two squads will meet in Dallas today (7 p.m. ET Sunday).

How will this star-studded matchup play out? We’ll preview the components that could decide the outcome of this NBA game before making some picks with our concluding Portland Trail Blazers vs Dallas Mavericks predictions.

Is Delon Wright Ready to Defend Damian Lillard?

The Mavericks’ roster, as currently constructed, does not have great defense at the point guard spot. Luka Doncic is essentially the point guard, but he’s too big and not quick enough to check small, skilled guards. J.J. Barea and Seth Curry are smaller, but neither guy is known for being a stout defender. Dorian Finney-Smith does better against bigger wings.

Wright is the logical choice to get the Lillard assignment in this game. Wright has a long 6’5” frame and solid quickness. He has put in two impressive defensive performances already this season in Dallas’ two wins.

Of course, Lillard is a flat-out superstar for Portland. He has averaged 33.5 points per game on a 68.5 true-shooting percentage through two games and he has a great combination of size, skill and athleticism for the point guard spot.

Will Wright get plenty of minutes defending against Lillard? If so, will he prove that he’s up for the task against a top-10 player in the NBA?

Will Kristaps Porzingis’ Outside Game or Hassan Whiteside’s Inside Game Prevail?

Porzings has played exclusively at center so far this season for the Mavericks. He brings a unique set of skills to that position. The 7’3” Latvian is a great rim protector and outside shooter, but he is also a weak rebounder who occasionally takes bad shots.

Whiteside is a very different player. The 6’10” center is much shorter, but he’s also a strong rim protector with a very long wingspan. He prefers to hang around the paint on defense. His offensive game isn’t nearly as versatile as Porzingis’, but he finishes well inside and is a dominant rebounder. For their careers, Whiteside’s rebound percentage (24.5) nearly doubles that of Porzingis (12.4).

The clash of styles could produce interesting results. If Porzingis’ outside shot is falling, Whiteside will struggle mightily to defend him. If Whiteside is aggressive inside, Porzingis runs the risk of getting badly outrebounded and getting into foul trouble.

Will Trail Blazers Make Luka Doncic Work on Defense?

Doncic is a 20-year-old phenom for the Mavericks. Within the next few years, he is going to become a perennial MVP candidate with his super advanced offensive game. Heck, he’s already averaging 29.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game through two games this season.

One area where Doncic struggles is stamina. He is still working to trim down his body, and that leaves him susceptible to getting tired easily. He is best when he doesn’t have to work too hard on defense and can focus on dominating on the offensive end.

Portland needs to make a concerted effort to have its guards and wings go at Doncic when he is guarding them. If he isn’t operating at 100 percent on the offensive end, the Blazers will have an easier time defending.

Our Preview’s Portland Trail Blazers vs Dallas Mavericks Betting Picks & Predictions Verdict

This game seems like one with lots of mismatches. Both teams should be able to score on each other pretty well, with Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Hassan Whiteside leading the way for Portland and Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis leading the way for Dallas.

I think the Blazers do have the deeper offensive attack, with three players who can legitimately play like stars to the Mavericks’ two. So with regard this NBA matchup’s picks, our Trail Blazers vs Dallas Mavericks predictions give Portland the edge: