The Dallas Mavericks have newfound energy going into Tuesday night’s matchup with the Chicago Bulls. In their last two games, the Mavs beat the Phoenix Suns and the Minnesota Timberwolves, two teams they had lost to in the last few weeks. Although the most logical move at this point would probably be to aim for a better position in this year’s draft (tanking if you will), the cold hard truth is that the Mavs will never have that mindset as long as Dirk Nowitzki is on the roster.
Can they make the playoffs? Sure they can. As of Monday night, Dallas is only 3.5 games back of the current 8th-seeded Portland Trailblazers. Will they make the playoffs? Probably not, but hope will continue to rise if they can put together a little win streak, continuing to make up ground on the eighth seed.
What to Watch For
Wesley Matthews vs. Jimmy Butler: Last time these guys met on December 3rd, the Mavs blew out the Bulls 107-82. Matthews and Butlers went neck and neck though, as they both scored team highs of 26 points each.
Deron Williams assist total: In the last game against Chicago, D-Will carved up the Bulls defense for 15 assists. I doubt he’ll be able to repeat that performance, but it’ll be interesting to see which version of D-Will we’ll see on Tuesday night.
Seth Curry Starting: Ever since Rick Carlisle pulled Andrew Bogut from the starting lineup and inserted Seth Curry, the Mavs haven’t lost. Given, they haven’t won against top competition, but when you’re at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, any consecutive wins is considered a big positive. Curry has been the NBA’s best 3-point shooter over the last month and a half, shooting an incredible 50.7% from beyond the arc. If that surprises you, just remember that it’s in his bloodline to make 3’s. Maybe it’s the competition, maybe it’s just the spark that the Mavs needed. Either way, It’ll be interesting to see if Dallas can continue to rattle off wins with Curry as a starter.
Harrison Barnes: Although it hasn’t always translated to wins, Barnes has been a joy to watch this season. Barnes’ game is blossoming under Rick Carlisle, and I’m sure he’s soaking up everything he possibly can from Dirk. With Barnes’ next basket, he will have scored more points in a single season than he has in any of his previous 4 seasons with the Golden State Warriors. That stat, combined with the fact that we’re only halfway through the 2016-2017 season, shows just how much Barnes was being underutilized in the Bay Area. Tune in to catch a career milestone for HB.
Dirk Doing Work
For the season, Dirk is only averaging 13.5 points per game. He’s battled a nagging sore achilles all year, and his minutes have been decreased as well. Also, as much as we try to avoid it, old age might have a little something to do with it. All that being said, Dirk has been heating up lately. Over his last three games, the Big German has averaged 20.3 ppg. If the Mavs have any realistic hopes of turning things around and making the playoffs, Dirk will need to continue his high level of play.
How to Watch
The Mavs and Bulls will tipoff at 7 p.m. CST in the United Center. You can catch the game locally on FSSW or on NBA League Pass.
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