Following two disappointing losses to Phoenix and Sacramento, the Mavericks begin a four-game West coast road trip tonight against the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets, who currently sit atop the Western Conference (20-9) are riding a three-game winning streak and hold a 12-3 record at home, which will be tough for the Mavericks to break, especially with their early struggles on the road this season.
Overcoming road loss woes
The Mavs are currently tied with the second-best home record in the entire league. Though when it comes to their record away from the AAC, Dallas rank in the bottom five of the league with a 2-10 record on the road. With the Mavericks already losing two games in a row, starting this four-game road trip on a good note is important. Facing off against teams like the Nuggets, Clippers, Warriors, and Trail Blazers is a daunting task for one road trip, being that these are currently four playoff teams.
Dallas will need to get the scoring going early as the Nuggets rank third in the league in points allowed at 102.9 yet opponents have scored just 94.3 points during Denver’s current three-game win streak. Being that the Mavericks have already defeated three of the four teams this season, excluding the Nuggets, give Mavs fans some hope that this road trip won’t end in a long losing streak.
DSJ and Barea’s availability
It’s unsure if Dennis will play tonight, though it looks like Barea will be back in the lineup after missing the last two games with an ankle sprain. For Dennis, he’s missed five of the last six games with an ailing right wrist that he fell on a few weeks back against Memphis that just hasn’t gotten back to form, though he has played in a few games since the injury occurred. He stated at practice a few days ago that you can hear a crack when he moves it, so I’d say that doesn’t sound too good.
Though, Dallas isn’t the only team dealing with injuries. Denver is without Paul Millsap, Gary Harris, and Will Barton, which is good news for the Mavericks, but that doesn’t exactly make this game any easier as the Nuggets seem to continue winning no matter who is in the lineup.
The bench unit has surely missed Barea over the last two games, especially being that Dirk is back in the rotation and his chemistry with JJ is well-known. And against this Denver team, JJ’s poise and attacking ability will definitely be needed.
Coach Rick Carlisle said J.J. Barea went through some of Monday's practice and status of Barea and Dennis Smith Jr. will be updated Tuesday in Denver. Barea already has said he plans to play against the Nuggets.
— Eddie Sefko (@ESefko) December 17, 2018
It’s clear that everything that the Nuggets do on the offensive end runs through Nikola Jokic. The 23-year-old big man is having a fantastic season for Denver, averaging 17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, and a career-high 7.5 assists per game. He’s able to find teammates all around the floor while also making time to get buckets himself. Defending Jokic will be a task for DeAndre Jordan, as Jokic is able to stretch out to the three-point line, whether it’s to knock down a three or dish an assist to a cutting teammate, which will bring DJ further away from the basket.
The game will begin tonight at 8:00pm on Fox Sports Southwest.
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