There’s no rest for the weary or the Dallas Mavericks. Following their 7th win of the season Sunday afternoon, a 99-79 victory over the Sacramento Kings, the Mavs will quickly turn around to face the Denver Nuggets on Monday night in the Mile High City.
Dallas was able to defeat Denver 112-92 at the American Airlines Center last Monday night with arguably their best effort of the season so far. The Mavs jumped off to 12-4 lead and never ended trailing in the game while leading by as many as 27 points late in the third quarter.
Clearly Dallas can beat this Denver team that is heading into tonight’s matchup 11-16, but shockingly only one game out of the 8th seed in the Western Conference, they just need to stick to the formula that led to their win last week. What does Dallas need to happen again tonight?
Play the Game At the A.A.C.
Unfortunately, this will not be the case. The Mavs are an abysmal 1-11 on the road this season with their most recent road loss perhaps being the most painful of all. Friday night’s heartbreaking loss to the Jazz after Rodney Hood‘s three point dagger with less than a second remaining was the ninth straight road loss for the Mavs. Their last road win (and only one this season) came on Election Night, November 8th, in Los Angeles against the Lakers.
Since Dallas hit rock bottom (a 2-13 record) following their 128-90 loss to the defending champion Cavaliers November 25th, the Mavericks have gradually improved their level of playing by going 5-7 since. It has been a home heavy stretch for Dallas with nine of twelve games played on their home court. That all changes starting tonight as the Mavs begin a stretch where they play six out of their next seven games on the road. Fortunately, only two of the teams in this stretch are currently over .500. Perhaps some lighter competition will help get their road game back on track.
Get Another Dominant Performance From Wesley Matthews
Wesley Matthews dominated last Monday night by scoring 25 points while going 5-7 from beyond the arc. It was one of those nights that have happened more often in the veteran guard’s second campaign in Dallas. We haven’t seen anything resembling that kind of performance from Matthews in the three games since.
In the last three games, Matthews has averaged just under 11 points per game while shooting just 35% from the field. With Dirk Nowitzki and J.J. Barea (questionable for Monday night’s game) out, the Mavericks aren’t going to win without getting at least 15 to 20 points from Matthews. There simply won’t be enough points on the board.
Do Whatever It Takes to Keep the Nuggets Shooters From Dominating the Game
The Mavericks, whether it was on purpose or not, had a good strategy for last Monday night’s game: Allow the big men for Denver to get theirs, but do whatever it takes to keep their shooters out of rhythm.
Salah Mejri had a solid stat line with 4 blocks, but he had no chance to slow down Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets’ second year big man had maybe the best performance of the night for either team with 27 points and 11 rebounds against Dallas’ thin front line. With Jokic’s success came less opportunities for Denver’s talented wing players like Danilo Galinari, Emmanuel Mudiay and Wilson Chandler to influence the game. While there is certainly much to be said about the Mavs’ perimeter defense with the likes of Harrison Barnes, Matthews, and rookie Dorian Finney-Smith, it had to be frustrating for Nuggets coach Mike Malone to see Wilson Chandler, his team’s leading scorer, only take THREE shots in twenty three minutes. Not good.
The Mavs taken two out of the last three contests played in Denver between the two teams. The Nuggets are just 5-7 on their home court. Surprisingly, there are nine teams in the league right now that currently have more road wins so far than wins on their home court. A win tonight would make it six wins at home and six wins on the road for Denver.
Tip-off is slated for just after 8 PM Central time and the game can be seen on Fox Sports Southwest.
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