After stealing a game from the San Antonio Spurs Monday night, the Mavericks (8-20) have the tough mission of heading west to take on the defending champion Golden State Warriors (22-6). In a nationally televised matchup from Oracle Arena, the Mavs will once again be without their rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr., who is out for this two-game road trip tending to a hip injury he sustained last week against the Celtics.
These teams last met on Oct. 23 in Dallas, with the Warriors thumping the Mavs 133-103. The Mavericks haven’t had a ton of luck against Golden State over the last several years, and with an injury-riddled roster, they will have another tall task tonight.
Will we get to see Johnathan Motley?
The Mavericks haven’t played particularly well on the road this season. Going a rough 2-10 away from Dallas, it’s asking a lot of this squad to go in and steal a win in one of the tougher environments in the league.
If somehow this game stays close going in to the fourth, we probably won’t see two-way contract Johnathan Motley on the floor. But if there could be bright side from the Warriors making quick work of the Mavs tonight, it’s the possibility of Antonius Cleveland and Motley getting extra run.
Motley is on ticking time bomb of a contract, so to speak, where each day with the team counts toward his availability on the main roster, so you’d think the Mavericks front office would want to see what he has to offer during actual games. Cleveland has had some run (and spurts of impressive play), but Motley has yet to hit the hardwood since joining the team recently — taking over Noel’s roster spot.
If the Mavs get dominated, I hope that means it’s Motley Time.
Is there a way to slow the Warriors down?
The Mavericks are dealing with plenty of key injuries (more on that below), but the Warriors are going through a rough patch of their own. Golden State will be without two-time MVP Stephen Curry (ankle) and Nick Young (concussion). To pile on further, Draymond Green (shoulder) and former Maverick Zaza Pachulia (shoulder) are both listed as doubtful game-time decisions.
All of that is to say, this might be the way to slow them down.
This isn’t a strategy per se, but the Mavericks might have a slightly easier time matching up and slowing the game down. Of course Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and a whole slew of other talent the Warriors employ will be enough of a headache for Rick Carlisle and company. But if ever there were a time to catch the Warriors, this might be it.
With all these injuries, are we at a turning point on the season?
Dennis Smith Jr. (OUT), Seth Curry (OUT), Dorian Finney-Smith (OUT), Nerlens Noel (OUT), Josh McRoberts (OUT). It’s not a great list.
Now some of these players haven’t been available most of the season, and the other is Noel. But in all seriousness, it’s hard to field a competitive squad when key players are in suits.
All of this forces the Mavs to face a certain reality: how do they gameplan the rest of this season? No one in the organization surrenders to the idea that the Mavs are tanking, or doing anything that isn’t trying to make the playoffs. And that’s fine, partially because they just aren’t good enough anyway. But there has to be some sense that these setbacks will eventually be too much to handle.
Yesterday Eddie Sefko of Dallas Morning News published an article on Seth Curry’s current reality...and it wasn’t an optimistic picture. Outside of the giant sinkhole disaster that has become Noel and the Mavs, Curry is the most disappointing story this season.
Here’s to speedy recoveries for all of these Mavs, we miss them on the floor!
How to Watch
Tip time is set for 9:30 CT, and can be watched nationally on TNT.