Road game 23 takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana, as the 20–24 Mavericks meet the 29–15 Indiana Pacers. Dallas is riding a three-game winning streak against the Pacers, taking both games from last year’s matchup by a combined nine points.
Winners of 66% of their games, the Pacers are on ‘pace’ to win 55 games this season. The 50-plus wins would mark the Pacers first season to do so since the Eastern Conference finalist Pacers from the 2013–2014 season. That team led by Paul George, David West, & Roy Hibbert won 56 regular season games.
We are a little more than halfway through the season and the Pacers are currently slotted as the third seed in the East, percentage points higher than the 76ers.
Winners of 15 of their 21 home games, the Pacers are led by their dynamic shooting guard, Victor Oladipo, who averages 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists on 42.8 percent shooting from the field.
Before tonight’s game let’s comb-through two things to monitor as the Mavs winners of just 4 of 22 games on the road visit the Pacers.
Dennis Smith Jr. continues to be away from the team
Oh boy, what a mess we have on our hands with Dennis Smith Jr. and the Dallas Mavericks.
On December 24th, Marc Stein reported that executives around the league expect the Mavs will move Dennis Smith Jr. at some point.
Some may think: why would the Mavericks want to move their 2nd best asset who is just 21-years-old? I thought the Mavericks had the “backcourt of their future” in Dennis & Luka?
Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon of ESPN reported the Mavericks desire to shop DSJ comes down to the relationship of Dennis & Head Coach Rick Carlisle.
According to ESPN’s report, the 59-year-old Carlisle and 2nd-year point guard Dennis Smith Jr., have not been on the same page – stemming from Smith’s decision making within the offense as-well-as the emergence of runaway Rookie of the Year candidate, Luka Doncic.
Carlisle spoke with the media yesterday, clearing the air – urging Dennis to return to the team when he sees fit, “[Dennis] is welcome to come back and rejoin the team whenever he feels like he can.”
The drama could not come at a worse time for the Mavericks as they recently lost their bench-mob captain, JJ Barea, to a season-ending Achilles injury. Smith has appeared in just 8 of the Mavericks last 22 games, battling a number of injuries including a sprained wrist, sore back, and a recent illness.
The Mavericks are searching for the right lineup combinations with Barea out, every minute is vital as it looks like the Mavericks will continue to play without Smith. ESPN reported yesterday that he will likely miss these two road games against the Pacers & Bucks.
We’ll see how things turn out with this mess – but one thing is clear: the entire situation is not a good look for all parties involved.
Can the Mavericks road success continue?
Road success at 4–18? How is that possible?
Since dropping an unaspiring game in Oklahoma City on December 31st, the Mavericks have been 2–2 on the road in 2019. The Mavericks dropped back-to-back games in Boston and Philadelphia & grabbed wins in Charlotte and Minneapolis.
The Mavericks hit 13+ 3’s in both of their road wins.
The balanced Pacers attack is no easy matchup for the Mavericks. Indiana has already logged 23 games this season with at least six players scoring in double-digits. As solid as Oladipo has been this season, they don’t need to rely on him as much thanks to the emergence of players like Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, Bojan Bogdanovic & Thaddeus Young.
As good as the offense can be, the Pacers defense is next level. They rank third in defensive efficiency per ESPN.com – just percentage points behind Milwaukee & Oklahoma City for the leagues stingiest defense.
The Mavericks are currently listed as a six-point underdog. Catch the game on FSSW at 6:00pm.