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A couple of things to watch as the Mavericks host the Spurs

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After going winless on their recent 3-game road trip, the Mavs return home to face the Spurs for the third time this season.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks will be home Tuesday night to take on their division rival San Antonio Spurs for the third time this season. The Mavs got roughed up on their recent three-game road trip, losing all three. Before their loss to Minnesota, the Mavs had lead by double digits in each of their last 7 games. Unfortunately, Dallas just can't put teams away, and they only won three of those seven. After losing to the Spurs by an average of only 6.5 points in their first two meetings this season, we’ll see if the Mavs can finally find a way to get over the hump.

Here’s two things to watch for tonight.

Help is on the way, just not tonight

Dennis Smith Jr. will miss his third straight game with a hip strain that isn’t believed to be serious. With the team already way behind in the standings and Smith Jr. figuring to be their point guard for the future, there’s simply no reason to rush him back into action. One would think that Dennis will make his return sooner rather than later, but for now, all we know is that we won’t be seeing a repeat of this tonight.

According to Rick Carlisle, it’s going to be at least another week before we see Seth Curry make his season debut. Even though it has started to feel like Curry will never make it back, the Mavs have no more reason to rush him back into action than they do Smith Jr. The last thing you want is to bring Curry back before he’s 100-percent ready and have that stress reaction turn into a stress fracture.

It’s tough watching this team struggle without some it’s best contributors, but for now, we will have to enjoy watching some of the smaller things, like Maxi Kleber continuing to develop or Antonius Cleveland making the most of his opportunity. Hey, maybe we’ll even get to see Johnathan Motley get some burn eventually.

Carlisle needs to find an answer for LaMarcus Aldridge

In the first two meetings between these teams this season, Aldridge has just tortured the Mavs. He’s averaging 32.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists against Dallas this season on 63-percent shooting. Aldridge gets whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and the Mavs will need extraordinary efforts from Kleber and Salah Mejri to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

The potential return of superstar Kawhi Leonard will probably gain the most attention from this matchup, but as we’ve learned in the first two games, the Mavs can’t afford to let Aldridge dominate the way he has to this point.

With Mavs playing the Spurs twice in the next three games and the Golden State Warriors being sandwiched in between, it’d be nice if they could surprise everyone with a win to start this tough stretch.

How to watch

The Mavs and Spurs will tipoff at 7:30 p.m. central time and can be watched on FSSW and NBA League Pass.