Dallas Mavericks at Portland Trailblazers — 10:30 PM eastern, telecast on TNT
There are only three games on the docket for Thursday, and the NCAA tourament resumes, too. Nevertheless, there will be one great game in the professional ranks. The Mavericks enter the night with sole possession of second place in the West after Denver’s loss to Boston Wednesday (yeah, another incorrect prediction), and Jason Kidd is coming off one of his best offensive performances in years.
The 36-year-old point guard posted 26 points, 6 boards, and 12 assists in a 106-96 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. If he can continue to play like that, the Mavericks will go very, very deep into the postseason. Dallas, too, will bring perennial scorers Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, along with defensive standouts Caron Butler, Shawn Marion, and Brandon Haywood.
The Blazers won’t roll over without a fight, though. They’ve won eight of their last 10 games, as Portland tries to maintain its four and a half–game lead over Memphis for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They feature one of the best scorers in the league, too, in Brandon Roy and are strong up front with LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby.
I think it’ll be close, and while I want to choose the Blazers because of their sense of urgency as the playoffs near, I can’t bet against Dallas these days. They’re too talented, and while I did diminish the importance of their 13-game winning streak, they are still playing fantastic basketball of late. Expect Roy’s production to be stunted by Butler and co., and chalk up 25+ for Nowitzki against Aldridge, who needs improvement on the defensive side of the ball.