For the first time this season, the Mavericks are trying to fight their way out of a losing streak.

Their trip to the East Coast could not have gone worse, with losses at Orlando and Washington dropping their record to 6-5. They had to dodge a tropical storm in Florida.

Now they’re trying to navigate a storm of their own, hoping to snip this two-game skid before it gets any worse.

And getting out of it isn’t going to be easy against the stronger-than-expected Portland Trail Blazers, who are rolling along at 9-3 and pressing Utah for the top spot in the Western Conference.

Right now, however, the Mavericks have to worry about themselves. They lost to Orlando without its best player (Paolo Banchero) and to Washington without its two best players (Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis).

That’s the sign of a team that is either going through a mental fog, or running on fumes. The Mavericks certainly looked like a tired team in Washington. Coach Jason Kidd hinted after that game that the time is coming to get Luka Dončić some rest. That’s something to look for at some point on this home stand, which includes a back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Here’s what else you need to know about Portland’s first visit of the season to American Airlines Center on Saturday night:

  • This is the start of a five-game home stand, with four of the games against teams with winning records. The only soft touch is the middle game against a rebuilding Houston Rockets team. The rest – Blazers, Clippers and Nuggets twice – all look like strong playoff teams in the Western Conference.
  • Conversely, this is the end of a six-game trip for the Blazers. They are 4-1 so far, having won the last three at Miami, Charlotte and New Orleans. They were without Damian Lillard on Thursday at the Pelicans as he was given a rest night. He leads the Blazers at 28.6 points and shoots nearly 41 percent from 3-point range.
  • Dončić had the sort of road trip that he will gladly toss in the trash can. After scoring 30-plus points in each of the first nine games of the season, the superstar point guard shot just 34 percent (17-of-50) and scored only 46 points on those 50 shots.
  • Josh Hart is the sort of glue player every team needs. He went to Villanova with Jalen Brunson. And Hart has a lot of the same qualities. He’s smart, always plays hard and makes very few mistakes. The wing player is a bigger Brunson, rebounds really well for his size and has been a major addition as part of the trade that sent C.J. McCollum to New Orleans.
  • Anfernee Simons is the best player in the league you might not be familiar with. While Lillard is the featured Blazer, Simons is in his fifth season and has blossomed since the departure of McCollum. He’s averaging 22.1 points and shooting 36 percent from 3-point range, which is actually down from the 40-plus percent he shot last season.
  • The Mavericks have won the last four meetings between these teams, including all three last season by an average of 28 points.
  • How have the Blazers been one of the surprise teams so far this season? With their defense. They are fifth in the league in overall defensive rating and the 106.6 points they allow is third lowest.
  • The Mavericks will continue to be without Davis Bertans (knee), while Christian Wood is considered day-to-day.


When: 7:30, Saturday.

Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas.

TV: Bally’s Sports Southwest.

Radio: 97.1 The Freak, 99.1 FM Zona MX (Spanish).

Twitter: @ESefko

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