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Four things to watch for as the Mavericks take on the Warriors

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Golden State makes its final appearance in Dallas this season.

Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The reigning NBA champions come to Dallas for the final time this season. While the Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to beat the Dallas Mavericks, the Mavericks aren’t going to roll over and play dead. If you haven’t been paying attention, you may not know that Dallas is riding a four-game win streak, their longest of the season. Each of these games was close but the Mavs were able to pull them out in the clutch, something they didn’t have much success with earlier in the season. Will the winning ways continue for the Mavs tonight? Only Miss Cleo knows the answer and she passed away in 2016. However, here are a few things to keep in mind while watching tonight.

Steph is back

Warriors guard Stephen Curry returned to action Saturday night in a 141-128 REGULATION victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Curry went off for 38 points to lead all scorers. Prior to that, Curry was sidelined after suffering a right-ankle sprain on December 4. Curry may be on a minutes restriction as he faces the Mavs, but that didn’t slow him down against the Grizzlies. He only needed 25 minutes to drop his 38 points. Dennis Smith Jr. will have his hands full guarding his fellow Under Armour-sponsored peer.

Klay

It should be noted every time the Mavericks play the Warriors how much Klay Thompson simply shreds Dallas. Sure, you can talk about Curry (as I just did) and you can talk about Kevin Durant (who will probably go off) but Thompson is a Mavs killer. For his career, Thompson averages 22.3 points against the Mavs. It’s his second highest point average against an opponent. He only scores more against the Indiana Pacers. Wesley Matthews was integral in slowing down the red hot DeMar DeRozan recently, holding him to eight points. He’ll have to muster the same defensive effort to slow down Klay “Big Smokey” Thompson tonight.

DSJ

In the last two games, Smith Jr. is averaging 20 points on 54.2 percent shooting, including 66.7 percent on 3-pointers. He’s also pulling down seven rebounds and dishing eight assists. If the Mavericks are to have any shot at knocking off the world champs, Smith needs to have a repeat performance. And hey, if it’s a close game with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Rick Carlisle needs to make sure he’s in the game. That’s been part of the winning formula of late.

Lineups

Everyone knows the Warriors’ starting lineup is probably the best in the NBA despite Zaza Pachulia’s limited verticality. What a lot of people don’t know, unless you’re a regular reader of this site, is that the Mavs also sport one of the best five-man lineups, in terms of plus/minus. The lineup of J.J. Barea, Yogi Ferrell, Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, and Dwight Powell is the second best five-man unit in the league. Carlisle relies on this lineup heavily, especially when opponents’ second units are in the game. Tonight should be no different but it’s EXTREMELY doubtful that these two lineups will see much time, if any, on the floor together.

How to watch

Tonight’s game tips off at 7:30 p.m. Central. You can watch it on Fox Sports Southwest locally or on NBA League Pass outside of the Dallas area.