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#3 Dallas Mavericks (57-25) vs. #6 Portland Trail Blazers (48-34)

Series Betting Preview and Current Odds

4/16/11
 
The sixth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers (48-34) are one of the teams nobody wants to face in the first round of the playoffs while the third-seeded Dallas Mavericks (57-25) might be the most likely to get upset despite winning 50 games or more for the 11th straight season.  The Trail Blazers have become a dangerous team since they acquired swingman Gerald Wallace from Charlotte at the NBA trade deadline and seem primed to make a run in the postseason.
 
Portland lost the first two games with Wallace as a reserve but finished the regular season by winning 15 of 22, including a 104-96 home victory against Dallas on April 3.  He scored a team-high 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds against the Mavs in that game as a starter, allowing head coach Nate McMillan to bring former leading scorer Brandon Roy off the bench.  Wallace is averaging 15.8 points and 7.6 rebounds in 23 games with his new team.
 
The Blazers should also have an edge inside with leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge (21.8 points per game) and leading rebounder Marcus Camby (10.3) clogging up the middle.  Then again, Dallas All-Star Dirk Nowitzki is not known for going inside and relies more on his outside shot.  Nowitzki averaged nearly 22 points in three meetings with Portland and missed the other game due to a knee injury.  Texas native Aldridge was especially effective, averaging 27.8 points and nine rebounds in the four games while shooting nearly 52 percent from the field.
 
Dallas finished the season strong and nearly earned the second seed but lost a tiebreaker with the Los Angeles Lakers.   The Mavericks have won their last four games both straight-up and against the spread after losing four in a row, and their last three opponents have scored 91 points or less.  They won the first two meetings with Portland at home before losing the last two on the road.  Defense was the key in the two wins, as they held the Blazers to 89.5 points per game.
 
Portland has also been great defensively over the last 13 games, allowing only two opponents to score more than 99 points.  One of those came in the regular-season finale when Golden State beat the Blazers 110-86 without Aldridge, Camby, Roy or Wallace on the floor.  The UNDER is 4-1 in their last five games and has cashed in 10 of the past 13 meetings in Dallas.
 
Series Pick: Portland Trail Blazers (+170 at Bookmaker) in 6

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