The Mavericks will look to get back on track Monday night after a brutal, soul crushing loss at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs. They struggled yet again to find their footing in a close game, as they somehow blew an eleven point with just under four minutes to play. It has been a theme all year, their inability to close games, and they wilted under the rising intensity inside the AT&T Center. The loss brought them to a (1-15) record in games decided by 5 points or less this season, far and away the worst mark of anyone in the league in those situations.
Even though Dallas has lost 7 of it’s last 10, the team does continue to play efficient basketball. Guys like JJ Barea, Devin Harris, and even Dwight Powell have given coach Carlisle great minutes. All three of them have managed a positive net rating on the season, which is saying something considering the team is only (8-22).
In true Mavs fashion, they are also finding contributors in unexpected places. Guys like Antonius Cleveland and Salah Mejri have been excellent in their limited minutes, but fellow Wurzburg native Maxi Kleber has been the real steal this year, becoming the rare three and D big man. He is only shooting 35 % from beyond the line this season, but that number is climbing, especially after his career high 21 point night against the Spurs.
With Seth Curry having been out all year and star rookie Dennis Smith having missed the last 5 games, the team will take production from wherever it can get it right now.
As for Phoenix, they are dealing with injuries of their own. They have been without their ascending young superstar Devin Booker since Dec. 5th to a groin injury. They have predictably struggled in his absence, mustering only one win in five tries. That one win was their most recent game though, as they stole one on the road in Minnesota against the Timberwolves. Their young bench was terrific in that game with four guys scoring 12 or more points, paced by Dragan Bender with 17.
This game will also feature a match up of two old school forwards. Both Harrison Barnes and T.J. Warren average right around 18 points per game, but what makes this intriguing isn’t necessarily the fact that they are just prolific scorers, its how they do it. In today’s analytically driven game, these two prefer to operate out of the “dreaded” mid range, and do it well. So if you’re looking for a break from all the “pace and space” three point chucking of the game today, than this match up might be for you.
You can catch the game live at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. If you can’t make it out, you cant watch it live on FSSW or via the Fox Sports Mobile app. Tip off is at 7:30 CST.
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