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4 things to watch as the Mavs host the Nets

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Dirk will be honored at halftime.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Brooklyn Nets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Author’s Note: This preview was written prior to the Brooklyn Nets’ game against the Miami Heat on Nov. 20.

For those of us who don’t live in Brooklyn or, for that matter, the Tri-State area, the big story surrounding the Nets this season is the injury to small forward Caris LeVert. To some, LeVert may be a relatively unfamiliar name. He doesn’t get national media attention or make highlight reel plays. However, those who know, know. That’s why losing LeVert to a dislocated foot was such a big deal. He was the team’s leading scorer and has a solid, all-around game.

So, the Nets are without their best player but still have a roster that has managed to put together a season similar to that of the Mavericks. Let’s take a look at some possible scenario’s we’ll see in tonight’s game.

Can Luka bounce back from a poor shooting night?

Rookie phenom Luka Doncic played one of his worst games in an otherwise stellar start to his NBA career, making just 6-of-20 shots with no free throw attempts. Doncic appeared at one point to be bothered by an ankle issue(this coming less than a week after getting X-Rays on his shoulder), so it’s unclear how healthy he really is at this point. However, after a sub-par performance, Luka has a tendency to find a little extra motivation the next time out. The Brooklyn Nets are also in the bottom fifth of the league in defensive efficiency.

Who will erupt against the Mavs?

It’s an all too common occurrence that an opposing guard torches the Mavs. Even former Maverick Quinn Cook got in on the action recently. For Brooklyn, the likely candidates are D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie. This season, Russell is averaging 17.2 points per game and shooting 42.2 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from deep. Meanwhile, off the bench, Dinwiddie is averaging 14.6 points on 46 percent shooting and 37.9 percent on 3-pointers.

While it’s extremely likely that one of them will go off, there is some good news for Dallas. Over the last 10 games, the Mavs have cobbled together a semblance of a 3-point defense. In those games, they are only allowing opponents to shoot 31 percent from behind the arc. That’s pretty good for a team that was dead last earlier this season. Still, though, stopping Brooklyn’s guards will be a priority. Attn: Dennis Smith.

Expect threes, lots of them

Wednesday night will feature a match up between the 7th and 8th place teams in the league in terms of three point attempts per game. Dallas is both worse at converting their own threes, and significantly worse at defending them(though their recent play has been improved), so if there’s a clear path to a win here for Brooklyn, it’s likely behind that line.

Offensive rebounding

The Nets are one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league. That should come as no surprise when they have guys like Jarrett Allen, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Ed Davis cleaning the glass. The extra possessions are key because Brooklyn plays an exceptionally slow game, averaging around 98 possessions. Luckily for the Mavericks, they don’t give up many offensive rebounds—nine per game, according to basketball-reference.com. DeAndre Jordan, Harrison Barnes, and Luka Doncic will all be tasked with securing boards and limiting the Nets’ opportunities to extend possessions.

DeAndre Jordan vs Jarrett Allen will be fun

Two centers at different ends of their careers, but with a similar skillset, as rim-running, lob-catching finishers. Both also attended college in the state of Texas, with Allen spending a year in Austin and Houston-native Jordan having what could probably be described as a “weird” single season as an Aggie.

Will the bench show up and are they healthy?

Dallas bench has been non-existent the last two games. Of course, this has a lot to do with injuries to J.J. Barea and Dwight Powell. Another missing piece is Wesley Matthews. While Matthews remains a starter when healthy, he’s seen a shift in his minutes that has him playing stretches with the second unit. This gives the team’s role players added firepower when their on the floor.

But when it comes down to it, Barea is the engine behind so much of what the second unit can accomplish. He may be having a down year in terms of shooting, but he leads the team in assists. Everything that the bench guys do is so dependent on his action that having him out of the game creates a chain reaction of poor play. Hopefully, if he misses another game, someone can step up to lead in his stead.

Dirk gets a key

During a halftime ceremony, Dirk Nowitzki will be presented with a key to the City of Dallas by Mayor Mike Rawlings. How cool is that?

How to watch

7:30 p.m. CT on FSSW or NBA League Pass