After a gut-wrenching loss to the Celtics, the Mavericks (3-15) head to Memphis to face a reeling Grizzlies team (7-9) that has lost eight of their last 10 games, including their current five-game losing streak.
The two squads split the home-and-home back in late October as the home team won each game, but a lot has changed in a month. For Dallas, Nerlens Noel is completely out of the rotation and has been relegated to mostly mop-up duty. And in Memphis, star point guard Mike Conley is out with an Achilles injury.
The Mavericks are playing better basketball as of late, and the Grizzlies are slumping. Here’s what to watch for as the Mavs search for the fourth win of the season.
Taking care of the basketball
Historically, the Mavericks have taken care of the basketball, and this year is no different. They have one of the lowest turnover percentages and average the seventh fewest turnovers per game. The problem is the Grizzlies are even better at taking care of the basketball, forcing opponent turnovers and capitalizing on those miscues.
Memphis’ opponents have a 16.2 percent turnover percentage this season, the eighth highest in the NBA. They’re also scoring 17.7 percent of their points off of turnovers, good for seventh best in the league. Neither team will commit an egregious number of turnovers, but if the Mavs can limit the Grizzlies’ scoring opportunities by not giving the ball away, they’ll have a good shot at stealing one on the road.
Scoring from the perimeter
Dallas is highly dependent on the three ball, which could play a huge role tonight. Led by former defensive player of the year Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies excel at limiting points in the paint. This season, they are a allowing opponents to score only 40 points in the paint per game, sixth best in the NBA.
If Dallas is going to win, they are going to have to get hot from deep. In the Mavericks’ win against the Grizzlies in October, they shot 42 percent from behind the arc, but in their loss they shot 29 percent.
The Mavericks are going to lose a lot of games this season, and that’s fine. It’s expected. But Monday night marked the second straight game Rick Carlisle played two other guards more than Dennis Smith Jr. In a season where the rookie’s development is of the utmost importance, Carlisle’s rotations have been puzzling. The Mavericks need Smith Jr. to get minutes down the stretch, especially in the rare competitive games.
Now that Noel has been phased out of the rotation the past seven games, it will be interesting to see how bigs like Salah Mejri and Maxi Kleber hold up. Noel did fine in the previous two matchups against the Grizzlies, playing nearly 20 minutes in each, but Marc Gasol is a tough challenge that could get a player like Mejri in foul trouble quickly.
How to watch
The game tips at 7:00 p.m. Central and can be watched on FSSW or NBA League Pass.