This one will be extremely hard to call. I imagine blowout wins from each team in this series and an ebb and flow that will frustrate both coaches. Both teams employ streaky players that can get hot or cold within minutes. Dirk Nowitzki is the only given to score consistently throughout every game.

The Blazers are a much tougher team with Gerald Wallace on board and he will play a huge role in guarding Nowitzki. The teams split their season series, each winning at home. Dallas is a great road team and Portland is mediocre there, thus giving the Mavericks a slight edge.

The Mavs historically seem to fade in the playoffs, especially in first rounds, so maybe that slight edge in road victories is a mirage.

That’s what’s so difficult about picking a winner in this series. I honestly have little confidence these two teams will play up to standards.

I do believe the Blazers are a tougher team and that could be a huge difference in close games. The Mavericks will be trying to win with jump shots and the Blazers will be driving to the basket.

Tyson Chandler and Shawn Marion will have to be effective rebounding, but also they need double-figure scoring based on the minutes they will be getting.

If he's feeling well, Brandon Roy could be the difference-maker off the bench and make life tough for the Mavericks.

KEYS

The Mavericks will win if...

- Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler average double figures in points.

- Jason Terry’s being Robin to Dirk's Batman.

- The Mavericks make Portland a perimeter team.

The Blazers will win if...

- LaMarcus Aldridge matches Dirk Nowitzki’s production.

- Blazers live at the free-throw line.

- Blazers control tempo to snails pace.

PREDICTION

Competitive but ugly series because of Blazers' tempo. Dallas 2, Portland 4.

REST OF SERIES: CHI - IND / MIA - PHIBOS - NYK / ORL - ATL / SAS - MEM / LAL - NOH / OKC - DEN

SCHEDULE: April 16, April 19, April 21, April 23, April 25, April 28 and April 30 / Regular season series tied 2-2

3. DALLAS MAVERICKS

6. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

11

Jose Barea

G

Data

F

LaMarcus Aldridge

12

3

Rodrigue Beaubois

G

F

Luke Babbitt

11

13

Corey Brewer

F

100.2

Points scored

96.3

C-F

Earl Barron

40

4

Caron Butler

F

96.0

Points allowed

94.8

F

Nicolas Batum

88

35

Brian Cardinal

F

47.5

Field Goal %

44.7

C

Marcus Camby

23

6

Tyson Chandler

C

36.5

3 pt. FG %

34.5

G

Rudy Fernandez

5

33

Brendan Haywood

C

77.7

Free Throw %

80.4

G

Armon Johnson

1

2

Jason Kidd

G

41.4

Rebounds

39.3

C

Chris Johnson

17

0

Shawn Marion

F

23.8

Assists

21.2

G

Wesley Matthews

2

41

Dirk Nowitzki

F

4.3

Blocks

4.4

G

Andre Miller

24

92

DeShawn Stevenson

G

6.8

Steals

8.0

G

Patrick Mills

8

16

Peja Stojakovic

F

14.0

Turnovers

13.0

G

Brandon Roy

7

31

Jason Terry

G

576

Accumulated playoff games

200

F

Gerald Wallace

3

TEAM LEADER

Dirk Nowitzki

23.0

Points

21.8

LaMarcus Aldridge

Tyson Chandler

9.4

Rebounds

10.3

Marcus Camby

Jason Kidd

8.2

Assists

7.0

Andre Miller

Tyson Chandler

1.0

Blocks

1.5

Marcus Camby

Jason Kidd

1.7

Steals

2.0

Gerald Wallace