Ah, Wade, my old friend, do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? ... It is very cold in Chicago.
Yes, that’s right, Dwyane Wade is coming to Dallas for the first time with his new team. And just for funsies, he’s bringing a friend: Rajon Rondo! The classic revenge narratives are thick in this game. I can already hear the boos in the AAC. I don’t think there are two more despised players for many Mavs fans. So, how do the Mavericks send their fans home happy by notching a win? Well, as this season has no doubt proven, that’ll be a tall order.
Slow it down
The Mavericks already play the second slowest pace in the league. The Bulls aren’t far behind. If Dallas hopes to be successful, they need to make this game look like a snail surfing a molasses wave. A slower pace has been what keeps the Mavericks in games for the most part. They might not be winning those games but it generally keeps them within reach of potentially stealing a W. Chicago can outrun and outgun Dallas. Keeping things slow will be sauce for the goose. The odds will be even.
Force mid-range shots
The Bulls like to attack at close range. Most of their shots this season come either in the restricted area or the paint in general. They shoot 56.3 and 48 percent from these areas, respectively. On mid-range shots, Chicago is only connecting on 36.2 percent of their shots. The Mavs will need to proceed with caution and keep their interior defense sound. This isn’t one big happy fleet and they don’t want to get caught with their britches down.
Shut down Jimmy Butler
Butler is having a stellar season. He’s averaging 25.6 points on 47.3 percent shooting including 40 percent from downtown. He’s also snagging 6.5 rebounds, dishing 3.9 dimes, and getting 1.6 steals per game. It’s early, but it’s easy to say that he’s a lock to make his third All-Star appearance in February. So, it’s imperative that the Mavs limit him as much as possible. Cue Wesley Matthews. Butler tasks him and Matthews will chase him 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares Maelstrom and 'round perdition's flames before he gives him up!
If the Mavs can do these three things, they could come away with a much needed win. It won’t be easy but nothing is this season. They’ll have to use their wits and their cunning. It’s the only way to survive this Kobayashi Maru season.
Oh, and a few parting words for Wade:
To the last, I will grapple with thee... from Hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!
How to watch
Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. on FSSW, WGN, or NBA League Pass for those outside the Dallas or Chicago areas.