Mavericks/Nuggets Shootaround Report: Know Your Opponent

Wednesday night marks the beginning of the end as the Dallas Mavericks (53-24) have five games remaining before the regular season ends. They will start the final stretch by starting a three-game homestand against the new-look Denver Nuggets (47-30). Denver will be on the second night of a back-to-back as they hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night and suffered a 101-94 loss in a physical match-up. The Nuggets have a record of 8-9 on the second night of a back-to-back. Their road record on the second night of a back-to-back is 6-8.

This will be the final match-up in the season series between the two teams. The two teams split the home-and-home series on Nov. 3 and Nov. 6, with the road team winning each time. Arron Afflalo beat the buzzer to defeat the Mavericks, 121-120, in Denver on Feb. 10. The Nuggets closed the game on an 11-1 run en route to the win. The Mavericks’ bench outscored the Nuggets’ bench, 72-12, in the loss. The 72 bench points marked the most Dallas has scored in a game since April 13, 1995 (70 at Seattle). It was also the most points recorded by any team’s bench in the NBA this season (Denver scored 70 points off the bench vs. Phoenix on November 28, 2010). Denver has won eight of the last 11 regular season meetings with Dallas. The Mavericks have gone 22-6 in the last 28 match-ups with the Nuggets at home, but Denver has taken four of the last six at American Airlines Center.

Obviously, the team has dramatically changed since the Carmelo Anthony trade that sent him to the New York Knicks. The new-look Nuggets should not be taken lightly as they are 8-2 in their last ten games. They're winning with a new-found commitment to the defensive end of the court as they have only allowed 94.4 points/game in their last 10 games. The defense has improved and they have managed to stay sharp and aggressive on offense as they have averaged 104.6 points/game in their last 10 games. It still comes down to trying to stop the opposition, so Rick Carlisle knows the Mavericks are in for a challenge when it comes to stopping the Nuggets. "They've had nine different guys lead them in scoring since the trade which is really an unbelievable stat," coach Rick Carlisle said. "They're extremely balanced and extremely deep. They've got a lot of good guys."

In the coach's opinion, the two guys that the Mavericks will need to key in on defensively will be Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton as they are the guards who really push the tempo for the Nuggets and make things happen. Guards will be a big factor in this game and the road team will be short-handed as they come into Dallas. Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo will sit out the game against the Mavericks due to a strained left hamstring. Afflalo had missed eight of the Nuggets' previous 11 games while battling the injury. Chris Andersen is likely to be a game-time decision with an ankle injury. Andersen suffered a fairly substantial sprain during last Friday's game against the Sacramento Kings.

Tyson Chandler sat out Sunday's game at Portland due to a lower back contusion. Rick Carlisle mentioned that Chandler will be a game-time decision against the Denver Nuggets. Coach Rick Carlisle said, "He (Chandler) went through some things, so we'll see." Chandler has only missed seven of Dallas' 77 games, a significant upgrade over his two previous seasons in terms of games played. He missed 31 games in the 2009-2010 season as a member of the Charlotte Bobcats and 37 games in the 2008-2009 season as a member of the New Orleans Hornets. In the seven games Chandler has missed this year, the Mavericks are 3-4 in those games.

The game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets will tip off at 7:30 pm CST.

 

You can stay connected with all things Dallas Mavericks by following Bryan Gutierrez on twitter @BallinWithBryan

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