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3 things to watch for as the Mavericks welcome the Warriors

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Dallas faces its toughest test yet as Golden State comes to town.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (6-8) are coming off a three game win streak and are winners of four of the last five games. What’s the congratulatory gesture the league has unintentionally given the Mavericks for looking like a basketball team again? The Golden State Warriors (12-4) fresh of a 107-86 loss to the Houston Rockets.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Warriors are trying to turn the page from the biggest potential rift threatening the NBA’s dynasty while also dealing with a minor injury to Stephen Curry that’s caused him to miss the past few games. So one of two things will happen tonight. The Mavericks could potentially be catching the Warriors during a time where the off court distractions are getting the best of the team, or the Warriors could prove that Thursday’s game against the Rockets was just a slip up and offer up the Mavericks as a sacrifice to the basketball gods.

With that, here’s what to watch for.

Defense

Are the Warriors running into a potential buzzsaw defensive team? Don’t look now but the Mavericks are running on three consecutive games holding opposing teams to under 100 points. The Oklahoma City Thunder (without Russell Westbrook) scored 96, the Chicago Bulls scored 98, and the Utah Jazz scored 68(!!!).

Even though the numbers are weighed down by the Jazz’s 68 point outlier, the Mavericks are playing top tier defense as of late, but they’ll quickly find out if that defense is for real or not. With Wesley Matthews out with an aggravated hamstring, the Mavs will be down a key defender against Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

Bench dominance

Per the Mavericks PR, the bench unit is annihilating the opposing counterpart during the Mavs three-game win streak.

The main reason for the bench unit’s surge is J.J. Barea returning to form. In those three games, the veteran guard is averaging 16 points and five assists while shooting 56 percent from the field and 44 percent from three. In the 11 games prior Barea averaged seven points and six assists on 32 percent shooting (22 percent from three). Additionally, Devin Harris has returned after missing the previous 10 games which gives the bench some versatility and defensive savvy.

Doe-Doe earning that dough, though

Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to submit my resignation letter to Mavs Moneyball after that one.

But all jokes aside, this is the type of game Dorian Finney-Smith can earn some serious bucks next summer once he hits restricted free agency. The Warriors deploy such versatile lineups with Durant, Thompson and Draymond Green all being able to do unique things with good size that it’s imperative Finney-Smith plays a good game to give the Mavericks a chance. He’ll probably guard all three of those all-stars at some point, but he’ll also be asked to continue to score the basketball as well. Playing both sides of the ball is required against the Warriors. Finney-Smith’s play has been one of the best developments this season, and tonight is a great opportunity for him.

How to watch

The game tips at 7:30 CT and can be watched on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass.