It seems like it has been a while, but the Dallas Mavericks (20-45) return to the hardwood tonight for the first time since their 118-107 win over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. Tonight, Dallas will take on the Memphis Grizzlies (18-47) in the American Airlines Center.
Memphis and Dallas have already met three times this year; the Mavericks currently hold a 2-1 lead in the series. In case you need a refresher, the most entertaining of those three games came in late November when Harrison Barnes banked in a 30-footer to sink the Grizzlies 95-94. That came before either the Mavericks or Grizzlies knew exactly what they were, and now both are certain that they are going to end up in the first half of the NBA Draft lottery.
It is not going to be a pretty game, particularly on the Grizzlies’ end. Memphis is currently on a 16-game losing streak. Players such as Myke Henry and Kobi Simmons are getting regular run, while veterans Marc Gasol, Tyreke Evans and Chandler Parsons remain helpless. Neither the Grizzlies nor the Mavericks are in strong positions in the western conference, but Memphis is lacking a true building block on their roster (like Dennis Smith Jr. for example).
For the Mavericks, it is going to be all about managing the middle. Big men Marc Gasol and JaMychal Green are the brightest spots for Memphis, which could cause problems for Dallas. Nerlens Noel has returned to the lineup and is getting regular minutes again; but according to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, he will be held out of tonight’s game for precautionary measures. Lucky for Dallas, Dwight Powell has been on another level. On Feb. 28 against OKC, he put up a career-high 21 points; and the game before, he pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds against the Pacers. He will have to be on the top of his game to keep Gasol and Green from dominating the Mavericks down low.
While Wesley Matthews is listed as questionable for the game, second-year forward Dorian Finney-Smith is expected to make his return. Finney-Smith has not played since Nov. 12 against the Thunder before going down with tendinitis in his quadriceps. The Florida graduate played his way into a contract with the Mavs last season thanks to his perimeter defense. He also shows promise with his three-point shooting and athletic driving ability.
Both teams are really looking toward the summer more so than the rest of this season, but expect this game to remain competitive. With two of the worst teams in the league going head-to-head, not many NBA fans will be turning this one on for NBA League Pass. But, whether these teams are going for the win or a complete tank job, it will be a game of young guns going head-to-head, which is always entertaining. With a win, Dallas would manage to net themselves consecutive wins for the first time since Jan. 9-10.
You can catch the game at 7:30 PM Central Time on Fox Sports Southwest. Make sure to log back onto Dallas Sports Fanatic for a total game recap as well.
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