March 20, 2016, 8:08 am
There are six underwhelming games on the slate for Sunday and Hoop Ball is here to guide you to the games you will find the most enjoyable. None of these matchups have the ‘wow factor’, but there is one game on the schedule that is beginning to have a playoff-type of feel.
The Honorable Mentions: The Magic take on the Raptors, the Jazz go up against the Bucks and the Kings look to take down the Knicks.
Now for the only game that matters, here is your ‘must watch’ game of the evening.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Dallas Mavericks
Tip Time: 4 pm (est)
Where: American Airlines Center
Player Matchup: Damian Lillard and Raymond Felton
The Mavericks (34-35) and the Trail Blazers (36-34) are two teams that are trying their hardest to stay in the playoff picture. Unfortunately, both teams are also struggling mightily through the month of March. Portland has gone 4-6 over their last 10 games and giving up an average of 112 points per game to their opponents.
The Blazers have been a bit of a surprise this season. After losing four of their five starters over the offseason, Portland was supposed to be going through a rebuilding year. Instead, the team has placed themselves sixth in the Western Conference and are on the verge of making another playoff appearance.
Leading the Blazers into their playoff fight is third-year guard Damian Lillard. Through 63 games this season, Lillard is averaging a career-high 25.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game. In the month of March, Lillard has done all he can to keep his team from falling in the standings, averaging 28 points, four rebounds and six assists per game.
Lillard took a hard fall in Friday’s 117-112 win over the Pelicans. He was clotheslined by Kendrick Perkins and was on the ground for a couple of minutes before getting back to his feet. Lillard has insisted that he is fine, and I would be shocked if he were to sit this game out.
In the previous meeting with the Mavericks, Lillard was unstoppable and finished the game just two rebounds shy of a triple-double (25 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds).
Dallas has gone 3-6 through the month of March and with their recent struggles the Mavs have fallen under .500, sitting just one game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Dirk Nowitzki has been amazing this season averaging 18.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. On the fringe of falling out of the playoff picture, Nowitzki has taken his game to another level with averages of 23.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in the month of March.
Chandler Parsons suffered a strained hamstring on Friday, and it seems that it could be serious because he is already considered doubtful for Sunday’s game. Deron Williams, who scored a season-high 30 points against the Blazers in their last meeting, is listed as questionable with a (right) calf injury. Wesley Matthews is also being listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with a lower-extremity issue.
(Be sure to stay close to Hoop-Ball.com for updates on the status of these three players before tip-off.)
The 37-year-old Nowitzki will now have to put this Mavs team on his back and try to carry them to victory. In the last meeting against the Blazers, the 17-year veteran was on triple-double watch finishing with 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists.