The Pelicans have a new big man of their own in DeMarcus Cousins, following a blockbuster All-Star break trade that left Kings fans everywhere in misery.
With the Mavs on the wrong end of a three-game losing streak, there will be a fair bit of pressure to bounce back and get this post All-Star stretch back on track with a win over the Pelicans, who will be making a run for the playoffs with their new-look team and new-found front court dominance.
Here are three things to watch for in tonight’s game.
The Nerlens Noel experience
The former 76ers big man was left in an awkward situation in Philadelphia, with a really crowded frontcourt loaded with talent. With an opportunity to shine in Dallas, it’s going to be really exciting to see what he can do in a different environment.
It’s likely going to take some time for Nerlens to mesh with his new teammates and fit into the Mavericks system, but tonight we should at least get a taste of what 30-minutes-plus of Noel means for the Mavs going forward.
The new Pelicans frontcourt
The Pelicans have arguably the two most skillful bigs in the game playing side by side. Dominant centers have always caused the Mavericks problems, and unfortunately it appears that this game is going to be no different. On the flip side, Nerlens Noel might finally be the answer to said big man problems. However, it’s going to be a tough task going up against these two, regardless.
To be perfectly honest, it’s going to be really fun watching these guys play together for years to come, and even more exciting when they get to go up against the Dallas Mavericks (as hard as it may be to watch).
A Mavericks bounce-back game
Let’s be honest, the Mavericks put up some pretty depressing stat lines last night against the Timberwolves. Some particularly tough lowlights came from Wes Matthews (seven points on 22 percent shooting), Dirk Nowitzki (eight points, 28 percent), and newly appointed starting point guard Yogi Ferrell (five points, 22 percent).
Hopefully the team (and especially these three) can put this last game behind them and use this matchup agains the Pelicans as a fresh start and something to kickstart the post All-Star stretch. Yogi in particular is going to be under the magnifying glass with the reins of the starting point guard position being handed over to him. Time and more time is important for this undrafted rookie, and Mavs fans will obviously have to be patient with his growth.
How to watch
Tonight’s game tips off at 7:30pm Central and can be seen locally on Fox Sports Southwest. Otherwise, you can catch it on NBA League Pass.