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Mavericks-Blazers Playoff Preview

Mavericks-Blazers Playoff Preview
Friday, April 15, 2011 - 5:03pm

There was a time when Dirk Nowitzki was a young, rising star, a guy whose expanding skills were making his team more of a championship contender every spring.

Now Nowitzki is at the point in his career where teammates talk about wanting to help him finally win a ring.

Having been to the NBA finals and won an MVP award, it's the only thing that still drives him.

His Dallas Mavericks will give it another try starting Saturday night with the opener of a first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.

While skeptics say the Mavs are too old and too flawed to win it all, Nowitzki's rebuttal is simply, "I don't talk to skeptics."

Portland Forward LaMarcus Aldridge averaged 27.8 points in the four-game season series against the Mavericks.

The home team has won in each of the games, putting the series at 2-all.

His success this season against Dallas highlights a breakthrough in the 6-foot-11 power forward's career.

Aldridge, in his fifth NBA year, is leading the Blazers with an average of 21.8 points and 8.8 rebounds a game.

Aldridge says he can trace his emergence this season back to the Blazers' Dec. 15 game at Dallas.

While the Blazers lost 103-98, Aldridge had 35 points and 10 rebounds. More importantly, he said, something clicked.

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