The Dallas Mavericks (7-8), winners of four straight games, visit Memphis to take on the Grizzlies (10-5) tonight. The matchup marks the first of the four meetings between divisional rivals. The Mavericks lead the all-time series 64–26, taking last year’s series 3–1.
To get you ready for tonight’s action let’s go through three things to watch as the Mavs take on the Grizz.
Can Barnes’ Memphis magic continue?
The last time the Mavericks visited Memphis this happened:
Barnes averaged team highs of both 21 points and 8.3 rebounds when matched up with Memphis during their four meetings last year. Barnes is coming off a superb outing against the Warriors where he scored 23 points on 7 of 14 shooting including 7 of 11 free throws.
Barnes signed a 4-year, $94.4 million deal with the Mavs back in the summer of 2016 which has turned out to be a pretty solid deal. Let’s not forget the Grizzlies forked over the same amount of cash for former Mav, Chandler Parsons. Yikes.
DeAndre’s free throws
Last season, DeAndre Jordan hit 181 free throws attempting 312 for a career-best 58 percent. This season DeAndre is a new man at the charity stripe hitting 44 of 54 attempts. Jordan’s free throw success has been well documented including The Athletic’s Tim Cato.
By watching a Mavs game, it’s pretty easy to pick up what Jordan is doing after he gets fouled. He does a lot of quirky superstitious things from requesting to touch the basketball immediately after a foul to asking his teammates who they are guarding while at the free throw line. The Mavericks have done an excellent job at identifying factors that went into Jordan’s struggles from the line & turning those weaknesses into positives. He looks to be shooting with a clear mind from the foul line.
DJ’s home/road splits are notable, he is shooting 91 percent from the line at the American Airlines Center (21 of 23) — while on the road, he is shooting 74 percent (23 of 31). The Mavericks are shooting just 65 percent from the line in their last three games - they’ll need every point they can get against a stingy Memphis defense. DJ needs to continue to establish solid positioning down low — particularly on Marc Gasol. Drawing fouls on Memphis’ bigs will put them in a bind. The Grizzlies are a different team with Gasol off the court. Free throws loom large tonight.
The legend of Luka
It’s no secret that the 19-year-old wonderboy from Slovenia is special. After Saturday night’s 24-point performance against the two-time defending NBA champion Warriors, Doncic became the all-time leading scorer for teenage rookies in their first 15 games. He totaled 292 points in that stretch, two more than Durant did during the 2007–2008 season.
Doncic has been as good as advertised. It’s clear that the game slows down for him and he plays at his own pace which is ridiculous at just 19. He has been the Mavericks best player this season. Yes, his turnovers are a little high, but good things happen for the Mavs when the Slovenian sensation has the ball. Doncic has totaled 63 assists in 15 games (4.2 per game) but leads the team in “potential assists” with 8.9 per game. Look for his assist totals to start to rise as the Mavericks continue to improve their perimeter shooting.
Deandre Ayton & Trae Young are having fine statistical years for their respected franchises, but Doncic has been the clear rookie of the year winner through the first 15 games.
Memphis is coming off a 100-87 win in Minnesota yesterday, it’ll be a quick turnaround facing the Mavericks. The Mavs are 1-6 on the road and enter the game as three-point underdogs to the Grizzlies. Catch the game on FSSW at 7:00pm.
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