The Dallas Mavericks left the Metroplex on Monday afternoon knowing that they might be embarking on a season-defining road trip.

The Mavericks (19-25) must make a significant statement on a road trip like this one as they hope to land one of the Western Conference's eight playoff spots.

The weeklong, four-game journey starts tonight at 9 at the Rose Garden in Portland against the struggling Trail Blazers (22-22), who have lost seven of their past nine games.

The Mavericks then move down the coast to tangle with the red-hot Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

That will be followed by a Friday night game in Phoenix before the trip ends Monday in Oklahoma City.

"This is going to be a big test for us," said Donnie Nelson, the Mavericks' president of basketball operations. "We need everybody to bring their 'A' game and bring it every night, because we're in a stretch of the season where every game is going to count.

"There are a lot of teams jockeying for position, so this road trip absolutely is important."

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