Tuesday, 12/3 – Mavericks @ Pelicans
The Mavericks will finish up their three-game road trip in the Big Easy with a game against the struggling Pelicans (6-14). New Orleans has lost five straight games and lost both ends of a home-and-home with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday and Sunday. The Pels are of course still without rookie phenom Zion Williamson as he is likely still a few weeks away from a return. In the meantime, the rest of the Pelicans roster hasn’t been immune to the injury bug either. Other Pelicans to miss more than two games so far this season include Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball, E’Twaun Moore and Derrick Favors, among others. Not an easy thing for Coach Alvin Gentry to have to juggle.
On the court, New Orleans has been a trainwreck defensively this season. They rank second-to-last in the league in points allowed per game with 120 a night. Teams are also shooting 48% from the floor against them each night with that ranking in the bottom five in the NBA. Dallas more or less met those numbers on offense when they defeated the Pelicans in New Orleans back on October 25th (48% shooting for the game and 123 points scored).
Matchup to Watch: Possible trap game?
Mavs Twitter was sure full of itself following the beatdown Dallas put on the Lakers in L.A. on Sunday. At 13-6, it’d be easy for a young Mavericks team to simply write off a reeling Pelicans team on Tuesday night. More-so now than ever before, you cannot underestimate your opponent in the NBA. There is just too much talent all around the league. Hell, even those lowly Knicks the Mavericks have slipped against twice this season have plenty of respectable and accomplished NBA players up and down their roster.
Before their win in NOLA back in October, Dallas had lost five out of their last six games at the Smoothie King Center. It’s just kind of a funky place to play with the iffy attendance, the odd colored seats, and an always pesky Pelicans squad ready to host. This one will not be easy.
Wednesday, 12/4 – Timberwolves @ Mavericks
This will be the first meeting between the Mavs and the Wolves this season. Shooting stats and offensive ratings suggest that Minnesota is an underwhelming offense. They’re 18th overall in offensive rating, 25th in field goal percentage and 28th in 3-Point field goal percentage heading into this week. All of those poor shooting stats somehow lead to them being 7th overall in points per game at 114.1 each night. Of course, the frisky Wolves are led on the court by the resurgent Andrew Wiggins, the incredible Karl-Anthony Towns and then on the bench by the 15-year-old Ryan Saunders, who is still less than one year into his first head coaching opportunity.
Matchup to Watch: Who is trying to stop KAT?
The Mavericks took two-out-of-three from Minnesota last season but it certainly wasn’t easy in either victory as Karl-Anthony Towns took it to the Mavericks big men. KAT averaged 34 points and 10 rebounds in the three games between the two sides last season. Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber are still in tow as the Mavericks will try to slow down the dynamic big man again on Wednesday night. One thing going in Dallas’ favor is that Towns is spending less and less time abusing opposing big men in the paint as he has doubled his three point shot attempts per game from last season (4.6 in 2018-2019 to 8.9 in 2019-2020). The problem with that theory is that he is currently hitting three’s at an insane 44% rate, by far the highest percentage by anyone taking more than 8 three’s per game in the league. The way Towns’ game has evolved over the course of his young career is quite incredible. He continues to fly under the radar while playing in Minnesota, but the Mavericks will certainly be aware of him when he comes to the AAC on Wednesday night.
Saturday, 12/7 – Pelicans @ Mavericks
The Pelicans came into this year as a potential playoff competitor for the Mavs. Understandable when you looked at some of the exciting young pieces on their roster, Zion Williamson being the headliner. Unfortunately for them, Zion’s injury and Luka’s rise to stardom has vaulted these teams in opposite directions. New Orleans got off to a dreadful start to the year, but the recent play of Brandon Ingram has steadied them a bit. They score a lot of points and play a pretty brand of ball, but ultimately they just aren’t good enough defensively to win consistently. It’s why they sport a 6-14 record.
Matchup to watch: Jrue Holiday vs. Luka Doncic
Though the Pelicans have been very underwhelming on defense this season, Jrue Holiday still remains one of the better guard defenders in the league. Prospecting that Holiday will spend most of the game defending Luka, this should be a nice test for Doncic, though he’s seemed to pass every test so far this season, no matter who is in front of him.
Sunday, 12/8 – Kings @ Mavericks
Much like New Orleans on Saturday, the Kings got off to an abysmal start to the season. But after winning 6 of their last 10, they’ve found themselves in the Western Conference top 8. They’re missing their floor general and dynamic young star De’Aaron Fox, but behind a balanced, perimeter based attack, they have found success under new head coach Luke Walton. Look for a fast paced, high scoring affair in this game.
Matchup to watch: Harrison Barnes vs. Luka Doncic
This should an advantageous matchup for Luka against the Kings. Former Maverick Harrison Barnes has taken a larger role in the Kings offense with Fox and Marvin Bagley down with injuries but Sunday’s game will be about Barnes chasing around the 20-year-old superstar in Doncic. Should be a long day for Barnes and the Kings on the defensive end of the floor.
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