The Dallas Mavericks (7-8) are coming off a nail biting win against the Golden State Warriors Saturday night and are trying to claw their way back to .500 but are facing a stiff test against the Memphis Grizzlies (10-5).
Both of the Southwest division foes selected in the top five of the NBA lottery last season, and while the Mavericks are benefitting from prized rookie Luka Doncic, the Grizzlies have been rejuvenated with the good health of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
Both teams are playing well as of late, and both squads will be looking to notch a valuable division win.
Battle of the rooks
As mentioned above, both the Mavs and Grizzlies added blue-chip talent in the 2018 draft. Dallas jumped ahead of Memphis and snagged Doncic, but Memphis appeared completely content with letting Jaren Jackson Jr. fall in the team’s lap at four. Coming out of Michigan State, Jackson was billed as raw but possessed arguably the most potential in the draft. An elite shot blocker with legit three-point range, Jackson represents the future of the big man. A JaMychal Green injury forced Jackson into the starting lineup, and the rookie has held his own.
It wouldn’t be a published Mavs Moneyball piece without mentioning Doncic, but readers of this site know how good he’s been. Tonight should be the first of many matchups between two promising prospects.
Mike and Marc
As has been the equation for years in Memphis, Conley + Gasol = playoff contention. Last season was an anomaly as both battled injuries, but the two are healthy and the Grizzlies are a dangerous team. As the slowest team in the league per nba.com stats, the Grizzlies aim to grind teams down slow and methodically. And with Conley at the helm, Memphis won’t beat themselves as evident by sixth-best turnover percentage. To beat the Grizzlies, the Mavericks will have to play efficient and mistake-free basketball.
Harrison Barnes finding his groove
After missing all of the preseason and the start of the regular season, Barnes appears to be finding a rhythm, and it can’t be a coincidence the Mavericks are on a four-game win streak. In those four games, Barnes is averaging 19 points and five rebounds on 51 percent shooting from the field and 39 percent from deep.
Barnes played well last season against the Grizzlies averaging 21 points and eight rebounds. The Mavs were able to notch their fourth win of the season behind a 22 point, nine rebound night from Barnes capped off with a buzzer-beating three with 0.5 seconds left in regulation. Barnes was sensational Saturday night against the Warriors. He played a role in a difficult fourth quarter for Kevin Durant and provided the Mavericks timely buckets. If Dallas is going to push this win streak to five, Barnes will have to come up big again.
How to watch
The game tips at 7:00 and can be watched on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass.