With Dirk Nowitzki’s ascent to 30K over and done with, the Dallas Mavericks must now carry that momentum over to winning some basketball games down the stretch. They host the team with the worst record in the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets, on Friday, but shouldn’t look past them for that reason.
The playoff chase
As improbable as it is that a team that started 11-27 might actually make the playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks are just a game and a half back from the eighth-seed Nuggets, who face the Celtics tonight. Dallas finishes out a five game homestand with a back to back that starts against Brooklyn and concludes Saturday against the Phoenix Suns.
But after that, things get tough, as the Mavs close the season with a slew of games on the road (where they’ve struggled this season). Seven of their final nine games — to be exact — will come away from home.
Nets road weary
Coincidentally, as Dallas closes out a home stand, the Nets are finishing up a long road stretch, Friday’s matchup being their eighth straight road affair. Brooklyn is 2-5 over that run so far, bringing their win total (for the season) to 11.
Much has been written about the state of the Nets franchise, which mortgaged its future for a shot at "winning now" during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. They still owe a king’s ransom to the Boston Celtics, which means all this losing will reap them no reward. Suffice to say, whoever is sticking by to watch Brooklyn play is a true fan. I’m not sure I could.
Two new faces for Dallas (and a familiar one returning)
Dallas continues its try-out approach to roster construction after signing Manny Harris and Jarrod Uthoff to 10-day contracts. I wrote a little about Uthoff prior to the 2016 Draft, and I think he has a chance to be a solid role player as a combo forward with size and, most importantly, a nice shooting stroke. He made 48 percent of his threes this year in the D-League. If he can be a halfway competent defender (he also blocked loads of shots in college), the shooting will be enough to keep him in the league.
Harris, meanwhile, is an older player, but has had a few stints in the pros. He was lighting up the D-League with the Legends to the tune of 26 points per game, so it’s not terribly surprising the Mavs want to see what he can do.
If and when either guy will play is uncertain, but what is certain is that J.J. Barea will suit up tonight for the first time in months for Dallas, giving the Mavs a much needed playmaker and distributor on the floor. I never thought I’d say this, but: thank goodness J.J. is back.
How to watch
Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00pm Central and can be seen on Fox Sports Southwest or through your NBA League Pass account. Enjoy!