Mavericks at Portland Trail Blazers
(9 p.m. Friday, Moda Center, Portland)
TV: Fox Sports Southwest, NBA TV
Radio: ESPN 103.3 FM (Univision 1270 AM, Spanish)
About the Mavericks (21-18): It’s the start of a road-warrior stretch for the Mavericks as they will play eight of their next nine on the road, starting with a pair of meetings with the Blazers . . . This will be the third time in the last six games that the Mavericks have had a chance to move four games above .500, a level they have yet to achieve this season . . . Luka Dončić, who could be re-entering the MVP conversation, is coming off one of his best offensive games of the season after pouring in 42 points in the 16-point win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, which salvaged a split of their two-game set. Dončić also had three steals, two blocks and nine assists. The assist total was the first time in four games since the All-Star break that Luka has not reached 10 assists. He’s averaging better than 12 helpers per game in that stretch . . . They have won 12 of their last 16 games and have finally climbed to the plus side in point differential. They have scored four more points this season than their opponents . . . They still are listing Dorian Finney-Smith as out for this game after he missed Wednesday’s game for the birth of his son. They will not have James Johnson, who must complete COVID-19 safety protocols before returning to the team, which could happen in Minnesota on Wednesday. In addition, Willie Cauley-Stein has been listed as out because of safety and protocol measures . . . Josh Richardson has been on a nice run since the All-Star break, averaging 15.8 points, 1.6 steals and shooting 50 percent from 3-point range in those games . . . Interestingly, the Mavericks are getting much love from Las Vegas, getting installed as a 3-point favorite.
About the Blazers (24-16): As long as they have Damian Lillard, they are a threat in any game against anybody. Lillard, whose numbers stack up against just about every other MVP candidate, has averaged 30.5 points and eight assists while keeping the Blazers more than just afloat while backcourt mate C.J. McCollum, who missed nearly two months to a foot fracture. He returned in the two games against New Orleans that wrapped up Thursday night. In his first game back, McCollum had 10 points and four turnovers in 26 minutes as the Blazers earned a wild 125-124 victory with a 43-point fourth quarter. On Thursday, they had an easier time of it, picking off a 101-93 victory in which Lillard had 36 points . . . With center Jusuf Nurkic riddled with injuries, the Blazers have gotten great production from veteran Enes Kanter, who is averaging 12.1 points and 11.7 rebounds and had an incredibly efficient game in Thursday’s win (16 points, 13 rebounds, 4-of-5 shooting, 8-of-10 free throws) . . . The Blazers shoot (and make) the second-most 3-pointers in the NBA, which is a key reason why they are sixth in the league in scoring and total offensive rating . . . On the flip side, they are next-to-last in total defensive rating, allowing 117.1 points per 100 possessions . . . They are in the midst of a five-game home stand. They have won eight of their last 10 games at Moda Center.