Tuesday night marks the first game in a four game road trip for the Dallas Mavericks (19-26) as they head to Portland to take on the Trailblazers (22-22). Dallas won the first match up of the series way back on November 5th, when the Mavericks crushed the Blazers 114-91.

Two and a half months later, these two teams are in very different places. The Blazers are right in the thick of the playoff hunt, currently 9th in the West with a three game lead on any challengers. Point guard Damian Lillard is playing like the rookie of the year and LaMarcus Aldridge is enjoying sharing the burden with a reasonably talented starting five. Dallas, on the other hand, is still adapting to life with Dirk and trying to dig itself out of a sizable hole caused by a late December losing streak.

The fine folks at Blazer's Edge feel like their current position in the standings might outpace where they end up, but they're delighted with their team nonetheless. We here at Mavs Moneyball demand more from the team and most of the staff still holds hope that this team is going to make the playoffs (I'm ALMOST one of them. I want to believe, but I'm mainly a Mavs agnostic at this point).