DALLAS -- Consistency. Can the Dallas Mavericks capture it?
With the right effort they certainly should tonight against a Portland Trail Blazers team that has no concept of the word. A supposed championship contender at the start of the season, Portland instead fired coach Nate McMillan and unloaded players such as Gerald Wallace at the trade deadline.
They haven't won consecutive games since Jan. 23 and 24.
This game has little do with the Blazers and everything to do with the Mavs putting forth the effort of a champion in a game they must have against a lottery-bound team on their home floor on the first night of a back-to-back (at Memphis on Saturday).
"The focus has got to be on game plan and playing at full capacity," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "That's what we're shooting for tonight, tomorrow night and going forward. Look, we've had a lot of good efforts, Monday (against the Clippers) was not a good effort, so tonight we've got to put two in a row together."
That's something Dallas has done just four times going back to mid-February.
Records: Blazers (26-29); Mavs (31-24)
Where: American Airlines Center
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Defense. Can the Mavs bring it from the tip in the finale of this three-game homestand? In the first two games they could not. The Clippers and Grizzlies outscored the Mavs 98-80 in the first halves and combined to shoot 53 percent from the floor (44-of-83).
Key matchup: LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Brendan Haywood
The Seagoville native knows he'll see a variety of defenders on him tonight including Brandan Wright, Ian Mahinmi and probably even Shawn Marion, especially if things are tight late. But, Haywood will have first crack at the first-time All-Star, who has put up some fine numbers against his hometown team. Aldridge averaged 27.8 points and 9.0 rebounds in the regular-season series last year against Dallas and in the only meeting earlier this season, he had 33 points on 14-of-26 shooting and 12 rebounds.
Up next: Mavs at Memphis Grizzlies, 7 p.m. Saturday