PORTLAND, Ore. – Although the Dallas Mavericks will take an impressive 3-1 record into tonight’s game in Portland, they are concerned.
Concerned that they are nearly blowing big leads instead of extending them.
Concerned that have been outscored in the third quarter of all four games this season despite leading at halftime in all four games.
It’s a pattern the Mavs have worked hard to eliminate since Monday’s 31-point lead against the Boston Celtics got chopped all the way down to one point before Dallas held on for a 118-113 victory.
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The Trail Blazers (2-2), who host the Mavs tonight at 9:30 at the Moda Center, will definitely offer one of the biggest challenges Dallas has faced thus far in this young season.
"The biggest thing for us as a team right now is we’ve got to get consistent defensively, and that starts with everybody on that first group,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said after this morning’s shootaround. "That’s our goal right now going forward, and this is a great test.
"You won’t find a better test than playing in this building against this team.’’
The Blazers advanced to the second round of the playoffs last season where they lost to the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs in five games. The Mavs believe Portland is poised to build on last season’s success.
"They’re going to be a force this year again, especially in this building,’’ forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "This building gets as loud as it gets in this league when they make their runs.
"We haven’t necessarily been good stopping runs, especially in third quarters. So we’ve got our hands full tonight.’’