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3 things to watch for as the Mavericks face the Nuggets

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Dallas travels to Denver to try and make it two-for-two against a hot Nuggets team.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

When the Denver Nuggets visited Dallas one week ago, the Mavericks played perhaps their best all-around game of the season as they led the entire game, by 28 points at one point, and eventually won 112-92. Wesley Matthews dropped 25 on 5-7 from three, Harrison Barnes added 18 points with four trips to the free throw line, and Deron Williams threw in 17 of his own as almost every player stayed in the positive for Dallas. However, Denver has moved Jusuf Nurkic to the bench and slotted Wilson Chandler at the four next to Nikola Jokic in the two games since, both victories for the new-look Nuggets.

Since, Dallas has mostly just continued to lose, sometimes in crushing fashion after playing well, sometimes being run off the court. Let’s dive into what we should watch for as the Mavericks try for win number seven:

Isolation defense

Denver is Synergy’s 6th-best isolation team at nearly a point per possession. With Salah Majri’s foul trouble, Hammons’ youth, and Dwight Powell’s lack of strength, the Nuggets bruising big men and the always energetic Kenneth Faried (who did not get much run against Dallas last game, but historically plays excellently against Dallas) could get the ball and score efficiently. If Dallas can keep Denver to a low number of points in the paint, they can outshoot this Nuggets team.

Dallas pick and roll offense

Denver is the 24th-ranked defense (by defensive rating), but they are also 28th in defensive efficiency when the pick and roll ball handler ends the possession. Deron Williams has shown good chemistry with both Mejri and Powell on those plays lately, and with Barnes and Matthews coming on from the outside, you can begin to see the makings of an effective pick and roll machine stretching defenses with Williams’ threat to pull up, a credible threat rolling to the rim, and shooters dotting the floor around the arc. If Dallas can force the Nuggets to hunker down and play defense instead of just running up and down the floor, they have the advantage.

Pace

One thing you’ll notice if you look through Denver’s wins and losses is that in almost every win they’ve had both teams have been above 100 points. This is a team that wants to use their depth (they have six players averaging more than ten points a game, and four more above nine) to run run run and get out in transition. Dallas has played just the opposite in most games, with a pace near the bottom of the league (29th) at only 91.2 possessions per game. Much of this game’s outcome will come down to which team imposes its will on the other regarding the pace at which the game is played. More set offense favors Dallas, while quick shots and more transition will give an edge to the Nuggets.

How to watch

The game tips off at 8:00 Central time and can be watched on Fox Sports Southwest locally or NBA League Pass otherwise.