This will be Mavs center Nerlens Noel‘s first return to Philadelphia since the trade that sent him to Dallas in late February.
Nerlens has been a good fit since his stint in Dallas began and looks to be a key part of the young core moving forward for the Mavericks, along with Harrison Barnes and Seth Curry.
The playoffs are still not mathematically out of the question for the Mavs, but these games late into the season are most definitely do or die with the race for the eight seed becoming tighter and tighter by the day.
Here are three things to look for as the Mavs and 76ers go head to head tonight.
Nerlens Noel revenge game
This game will likely hold a lot of excitement for Noel as he gets to square off against his former team. The 76ers had to make a tough call when it came to the trade deadline. The team was loaded with talent in the front court, which didn’t give Nerlens much chance to succeed with such limited opportunity.
While he hasn’t been able to play that many minutes since he got here, in his one start Nerlens was extremely good with 15 points, 17 rebounds, two assists and two blocks, an excellent result for someone who has only been with the team for such a short period of time.
Nerlens has been nursing some knee swelling over the past week and a half, but will be champing at the bit to get more court time after only contributing 23 minutes against the Wizards on Wednesday (he put up 12 points, three rebounds and a block).
Justin Anderson revenge game?
He was the draft pick that had Mavs fans everywhere believing our luck in the draft had finally changed. Some people (who will remain nameless) even believed that he was better than Harrison Barnes... okay, so that didn’t totally come to pass, but he was an exciting young player who turned up with flashy highlights here and there.
Unfortunately, Anderson’s consistency just couldn’t keep him in the rotation as a solid nightly contributor for the Mavericks, and they decided to part ways with him in the trade that got us Nerlens in return.
Since Anderson has been with the 76ers, he’s had a couple of noteworthy games. He posted 19 points, six rebounds, and three assists against the Bucks, and 19 points, five rebounds and two assists against the Knicks.
It feels like the Mavericks are often prone to having their former players go off against them, and this could potentially be the case tonight as well. I’m sure Justin will be incredibly energetic, trying to swat and dunk on absolutely everyone.
The Dario Saric experience
In the last 15 games, the rookie out of Croatia has been playing out of his mind with averages of 20.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists while shooting 47.3 percent from the field. This type of play has placed him into high consideration for rookie of the year over his teammate Joel Embiid.
The last time he played the Mavericks was on Feb. 1, and he didn’t quite put up these types of numbers. However, he’s seemingly flipped a switch since then and will likely be a dangerous factor tonight.
If the Mavericks are able to limit his opportunities and keep him quiet, they should have a pretty good chance of taking the 76ers down, especially with Joel Embiid being out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
How to watch
You can catch the game on Fox Sports Southwest (or NBA League Pass outside of the Dallas area) starting at 6:00pm Central. Follow along with us to catch all of our game coverage!