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3 things to watch for when the Mavericks and Heat clash

Two squads with plenty of history, forging new eras in their team’s future, go to battle Monday night in Dallas.

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks (16-34) host the Miami Heat (28-21) Monday night, their second meeting of the season. Back in late December these teams clashed in Miami, a night where Dirk matched a career high in three point attempts (6/15 from three, 20 points) and former Maverick Wayne Ellington lit up the Miami sky with 28 points (8/12 from three). The Mavs played behind from the start, and lost 113-101.

Miami has surged up the Eastern Conference standings, now fourth, after a seven game winning streak, and are 11-6 since that night. The Mavs had a four game winning streak of their own, but have continued their roller coaster season, going 7-10 in the same stretch.

Here are a few things to watch for tonight.

Slow and Low

Though both broke triple digits in the first match up, these are two teams that sit in the back of the league in pace. The Mavericks, playing at a pace of 95.2 possessions per 48 minutes (25th), and the Heat, playing at a pace of 94.8 per 48 minutes (28th), prefer to slow the game now.

No surprise here, with limiting possessions, both squads are near the back of the pack in points per game: Dallas averages 102 points per game (25th) and Miami 100.6 points per game (28th). One of the only reasons their point averages aren’t lower is because they both attempt a lot of threes, with Miami sixth in the league in percentage of field goal attempts from three (37.5 percent) and Dallas fourth (37.8 percent). And they both are decent from deep (more below).

Don’t expect fast paced play tonight, while both teams try establish themselves in the half court.

No hesitation from long range

They aren’t the Houston Rockets (50 percent of their field goal attempts are from three), but neither team has a problem jacking up shots from the perimeter. When they last met, Dallas and Miami combined to attempt 60 threes, and connected on 55 percent of them. It felt like every one was going in.

As mentioned before, Dirk and Ellington were both scorching on December 22nd, but there’s plenty of firepower on both sides behind them. Wesley Matthews and Yogi Ferrell have been the Dallas’ other sharpshooters, both having solid seasons from the perimeter. Ellington leads the way for Miami, but Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson and Goran Dragic all have to be respected from deep. It wouldn’t be surprising to see these teams push 60 attempts again Monday night.

Rookie elite

Both of these teams are fortunate to be featuring two of the best rookies this season. Dennis Smith Jr. has yet to really hit that rookie wall, coming on strong of late. Over the last ten games DSJ’s numbers are up, averaging over 17 points and 5 assists. His shooting has been more volume than efficiency, but he’s asserting himself more and is being given more opportunity on the floor. He did not have a great game the first meeting with Miami (6 points, 7 assists on 2/7 shooting), so look for him to bounce back tonight.

Miami big man Bam Adebayo was the final lottery pick in last summer’s draft, and has exceeded expectations in his first season. His numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page — he’s spot started ten games, hasn’t scored double digits in over two weeks and is averaging 20 minutes per game — but he does a little bit of everything, and is a massive, athletic presence on the floor.

Adebayo started in the December game (*Side note: Whiteside did not play in that game but should be good to go tonight, and is a matchup nightmare for Dallas) and was very effective, notching 14 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists (6/9 from the field) in 38 minutes.

Tonight will be another opportunity to watch some of the elite of the future of the league go to work.

How to watch

Tip off is set for 7:30 pm Central time, and can be watched on FSSW, the Fox Sports Go app, or NBA League Pass.