After two painful back-to-back losses, the Dallas Mavericks (8-23) face the Detroit Pistons (17-13), who are currently sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. This will be the first time these two teams play this year after the Pistons swept the season series against the Mavericks last season.
Good news for the Mavericks and people who watch the games: Dallas could possibly get reinforcements if Dennis Smith Jr. returns to the lineup after missing the last six games with a hip strain.
Rick Carlisle says Dennis Smith Jr. (left hip strain) is “optimistically questionable” Wednesday vs. Detroit. He went through an intense workout Monday and Tuesday. #DALvsDET— Earl K. Sneed (@EarlKSneed) December 19, 2017
Losers of five of the last six, the Mavericks desperately need to beat a Pistons team that has won three games in a row. Here’s what to watch for on Wednesday night.
Can the Mavs take care of the ball?
Historically, the Mavericks hardly turn it over. True to form, this season Dallas is turning the ball over as a team the fewest number of times per game in the NBA. That could be huge playing a Pistons team that thrives on wreaking havoc for the offense. On the season, Detroit’s opponents sport a 16.2 turnover percentage, which is fifth highest in the NBA. This is a key aspect of the Pistons’ game as they score 17.5 percent of their points off turnovers, good for 18 points per game.
Andre Drummond is always a problem
Drummond might be one of the last few “traditional” big men in the NBA, but man, is he impressive. The 24-year-old leads the league in double-doubles (20) and total rebounds per game with 14.9 boards. While he won’t stretch the floor and cause the Mavericks big men to guard on the perimeter, he’s an absolute load down low and will give Dirk Nowitzki, Maxi Kleber and, God bless their souls, Dwight Powell and Salah Mejri all they can handle.
Fourth quarter woes
If the Mavericks are fortunate enough to be in a winning position, it will be crucial for them to finish the game strong, unlike what’s occurred the past two games. On Monday, Dallas allowed San Antonio to go on a 13-0 run over the final 4:11 and close the game out on a Manu Ginobili layup. On Wednesday, the Mavericks led for the entire second half until the Suns tied the game with 7:29 remaining. Phoenix outscored the Mavericks by 13 in another fourth quarter meltdown. Again, Dallas may not even be in position for this to be relevant, but if they are, the Mavericks have to close it out.
How to watch
The game tips off at 7:30 Central and can be watched on FSSW and NBA League Pass.