The Mavericks look to avoid their second three-game losing streak of the season when they face off against the Chicago Bulls on Friday night, while the Bulls hope to leverage Jimmy Butler's 53-point performance, and the return of Derrick Rose, into some momentum and a winning streak.
Both teams hold half-game leads for their positions in the conference standings, with Dallas sitting in fifth in the West, a half-game over Memphis, and Chicago sitting in third in the East, a half-game over Atlanta.
Since they last met
Dallas beat Chicago 118-111 back on December 26th, thanks largely in part to J.J. Barea's career-high seven three-pointers made and 26 points. However, Dallas has been largely unimpressive (outside of a win over Golden State) since that late-December win, going 5-5 in the ten games since.
Meanwhile, Chicago found a groove after their loss to Dallas, winning their next six games before falling into a three-game slide. The Bulls, on the back of 53 points from Jimmy Butler, managed to overcome a 24-point first-half deficit to beat the 76ers in overtime on Thursday.
Derrick Rose missed Chicago's last game due to tendenitis in his left knee, but he's expected to play against the Mavs on Friday. In the December matchup, Rose posted a then season-high 25 points on 12-of-20 shooting, making up for Butler's dud of a game.
Jimmy Butler has been on fire in the month of January, averaging 30.6 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting from the floor. He's also adding 6.5 assists and 5.6 rebounds per night. Arguably the biggest improvement to his game this month has been his three-point shooting. He's making three's at a 40.7 percent rate in January, a tremendous improvement over the 23.5 percent he shot from distance in December.
What the Mavs need to do to win
First and foremost, Wes Matthews needs to be at his defensive best against Butler. In their December meeting, Dallas held the Bulls' star to 17 points on 4-of-11 shooting with five turnovers.
Speaking of turnovers, the Mavs will also need to take advantage of the turnovers that come their way. Chicago is -35 in turnover margin in their last four games, so the Mavs need to be ready to capitalize on those opportunities.
Of course, having their full compliment of players should help Dallas as well, as they were without all five starters when they took the court Wednesday against Oklahoma City.
How to watch
Tipoff is at 7:00 p.m. Central on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass via your streaming device of choice.