The Dallas Mavericks (17-16) return home off a 2-1 road trip to finish out the first half of the regular season against the Oklahoma City Thunder (14-20) on Wednesday night.
Dallas is playing their best basketball of the season winning nine of their last 12 games and have moved over .500 for the first time since January 22nd when they defeated the San Antonio Spurs. They will look to head into the All-star break two games over .500 for the 2nd time this season.
Containing Shai Gilgeous Alexander
Shai is unquestionably the best player on this rebuilding OKC team. The 22-year-old young star is averaging 23 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game this season. The month of February saw him average 25 points game with 51/47/84 shooting splits. I expect the Mavs to send plenty of defensive attention his way to make his other younger teammates have to make plays.
Speaking of the other young guys on the team. Keep an eye on Theo Maledon, Darius Bazley, Luguentz Dort and former Maverick Isaiah Roby. Dort is one the best perimeter defenders in the league as a 2nd year player.
Stay hot Jalen Brunson
It is only right that the guy that has stepped up to take some of the load of Luka Doncic is a guy that came from the 2018 draft class. During this recent hot stretch for the Mavs, there hasn’t been a more important piece than Jalen Brunson. Luka is going to be Luka, but the Mavs desperately needed another consistent playmaker out there to take some of the load off of the Mavs young superstar.
For the season, Brunson is shooting 53/42/85 which would all be career-highs as it currently sits. With Carlisle sitting Luka for the first few minutes of 4th quarters, his most important impact comes there. He has scored 132 points on 59.5/44/84.5 shooting splits in the 4th quarter this season.
Scrappy young team
I mentioned earlier that the Thunder are in the middle of the rebuild. That hasn’t stopped them from competing and playing teams close. Coming into Wednesday, they have played the most games decided by three points or less. They are 6-4 in those games.
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