Monday – Mavericks @ Pacers
The Mavs open up the week against the 31-18 Pacers in Indianapolis. The Pacers took a hard hit on Saturday with a poor performance at home against the Knicks putting up only 85 points. In the same game, they took a huge hit to their starting lineup. The team’s second-leading scorer, TJ Warren, was taken to the hospital after he hit his head on the floor on a big fall under the basket.
Now that they have had a day off, I wouldn’t sleep on this Pacer team. I realize they are in the East and have been lackluster as of late, but this team is quick and can put points on the board with ease. Especially with their star, Victor Oladipo, back from his extended injury – he alone transforms this team offensively. However, he’s not the guy we should watch, how about their other young stud.
Matchup to watch: Domantas Sabonis
Sabonis is becoming a force in this league. At only 23 years of age, he is leading this Pacers team in both points and rebounds per game with 18.2 and 12.7, respectively. To put that into perspective, statistically, both are better than Kristaps Porzingis this year. Porzingis will see some time defending the 6’11” power forward, but expect to see Maxi on him for most of the evening.
The left-handed Lithuanian is extremely versatile and quick for his size. He’s certainly having his best year yet and really can be a stud in this league for years to come. Sabonis has improved very quickly, now being in his fourth year in the league; enough to be named to his first All-Star game in a couple of weeks. For now, there is a battle in store for the Mavs in the post tonight.
– Darien Clark
Wednesday – Grizzlies @ Mavericks
Entering the week, the feel-good Grizz are 24-25 and winners of four out of their last five games. They will face the Pistons at home on Monday night before taking on the Mavericks on Wednesday. Dallas is yet to face the true up-and-coming version of Memphis the league is seeing this season as the one time these two teams faced off back on November 9th at the Fed Ex Forum, Rookie of the Year leader Ja Morant was not in the lineup. Dallas won that game handily, but one would have to figure Wednesday night will be much tougher with Luka Doncic for sure not in the lineup for Dallas and Morant likely on the court for Memphis.
Matchup to Watch: Handling the balanced fast, athletic Memphis scoring attack
There’s a lot more to rookie coach Taylor Jenkins’ upstart bunch than just their last two high draft picks in Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. There are five different Grizzlies who average more than 12 points per game this season (Morant, Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks, Jonas Valanciunas and Brandon Clarke) compared to just three for the Mavericks and only two of those will likely be in uniform on Wednesday night (Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr.). The young Grizzlies also love to push the pace as they are fourth in fast break points per game at 17.4 and play at the fourth fastest pace in the league at 103.2 possessions per 48 minutes. The Mavericks, usually under the guidance of halfcourt maestro Luka Doncic, are 22nd with a pace of 98.8 and 12.3 fast break points per game.
– Dylan Duell
Friday – Mavericks @ Wizards
With facing two potential playoff teams during the week, the Mavericks weekend schedule eases up, starting with the Wizards on Friday in Washington. As we all know, the Mavs have played much better on the road than they have as home, as weird as that still seems to be, so this small Eastern Conference road trip may show well for them. Though their record doesn’t show it, the Wizards have been an above average offensive team this season, led by All-Star snub Bradley Beal. Don’t sleep on the Wiz or Beal, Bertans, and company will make it rain.
Matchup to Watch: Defending Bradley Beal
As we saw in the home opener this season, Luka Doncic and Bradley Beal had quite the duel and by duel, I mean Luka dominating the Wizards entire roster and Beal getting fed up with it, ending an his ejection. Though, this time around we won’t see Doncic as he continues to rehab his sprained right ankle. Beal is an elite two-way player in this league and with just being left off the All-Star team, you can bet that he’ll have a chip on his shoulder throughout the rest of the season.
– Michael Mulford
Saturday – Mavericks @ Hornets
The last time meeting between these teams in Dallas to kick off 2020, the Hornets walked into the AAC and stole one in overtime. Granted, the Hornets led for most of the game by double digits but just an overall poor showing from Dallas. And even though Doncic had a 39 point, 12 rebound, 10 assist triple-double, it wasn’t enough. Terry Rozier and Devonte Graham combined for 56 points and 21 assists, a performance that the Mavericks can’t let be duplicated.
Matchup to Watch: Avoiding slow starts
Though they’ve been better about it as of late, the Mavericks have had their fair share of slow starts out the gate this season, as they did against the Hornets in January, finding themselves down by 12 at the end of the first quarter. Adding to the fact that the Hornets aren’t a playoff team, gives the Mavericks even more incentive to get off to a quick start because for Charlotte, they have nothing to lose. It’s these games against lesser talent that catch you slipping and the Mavs had gotten caught slipping far too many times already this season.
– Michael Mulford
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