After a disheartening loss to the Pacers, the Mavericks will travel to Charlotte as they take on the Hornets and try to find a way to get a much-needed win. What's the opposite of "unstoppable force meets immoveable object?"
Mavs have NBA's longest losing streak (5 games). Hornets have the league's longest winning streak (7 games). They meet Monday in Charlotte.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 13, 2016
What happened last time these two teams met?
The last time these two teams faced off was early November, when the Hornets handed the Mavericks a loss courtesy of Al Jefferson and his 31 points.
What has Charlotte done lately?
The Hornets lost Al Jefferson to a knee injury not long after that game against the Mavs, but he's back, coming off the bench, and his increasingly positive contributions are just one of the reasons the team has surged lately, winning eight of their last 10 games and sitting just a half game out of the top four in the East. Others include Kemba Walker's outstanding season and consistently productive performances from Nicolas Batum.
Despite some hurdles, including Jefferson's injury and a tough schedule during the first half of the season, the team has both a top 10 offense and a top 10 defense for the season and has been even stronger since the All-Star break. Since then they've been the fifth highest scoring offense (just ahead of the Mavericks) and the fifth best defense (very, very, very far ahead of the Mavericks).
Why is everything so terrible?
Dallas basketball feels a little bleak right now. The team is on the cusp of falling out of the playoffs. This means likely facing either Golden State or San Antonio in the first round or missing the playoffs entirely (given the team's history with the draft, there's no real reason to think that will do them much good next season). If you feel like wallowing a bit, we've got you covered here and here.
But the prospect of facing the team with the longest winning streak in the NBA as the team currently on the biggest losing streak may be good motivation. And with Jefferson still playing a limited role, Dirk and Lee may be able to continuing providing solid offense while getting away with less solid defense. The Mavericks may not be favored to win this game, but with the next 10 days bringing games against Cleveland, Portland (twice), and Golden State (also twice, because we cannot have nice things right now), it may be their last chance for a while.
How to watch
The game tips off at 6:00PM Central on Fox Sports Southwest (or, as always on NBA League Pass for those of you outside the Dallas area).