The Dallas Mavericks (15-17), in the midst of their second six game losing streak of the season, are back home after a long road trip to play host to the New Orleans Pelicans (15-19). December hasn’t been kind to the Mavericks, and now we all push past our holiday haze for a unique double home-and-home (next against the Oklahoma City Thunder to close out 2018), with hopes of snapping a nasty streak.
The Mavs faced the Pels earlier in the month, getting throttled 132-106 in New Orleans — a night where Anthony Davis and Julius Randle each went for 27 points. Randle tacked on 18 rebounds, and Davis 9 assists.
Here’s what we’re looking for in tonight’s battle:
Gotta win the close ones
In the midst of this losing streak the Mavericks have lost by an average of six points. Never losing by more than 10, and getting as close as three, the Mavericks have given themselves a chance in nearly every game.
It almost feels triggering to talk about it now, with horror flashbacks to last season’s clutch record. They’ve some late game heroics and come up short, leading one to believe that they’ll finally connect on one of these games. But the longer the struggles go on, the more it will become a mental challenge. The Mavericks don’t match up very well with the athleticism of the Pelicans’ interior, but if this stays close, look for the Mavericks’ home court advantage to pull through.
Gotta guard the three
When they met last the Pelicans were a lethal 17-of-29 from three (58.6 percent). E’Twaun Moore and Darius Miller were Mavs killers off the bench, going 7-of-10 from deep.
The Mavericks have to make the Pelicans uncomfortable along the perimeter to give themselves a chance. During this six game losing streak the Mavericks have limited teams to shooting 33 percent from three, a pretty solid number. The only problem is the team is shooting 31 percent from deep themselves.
Gotta have Doncic redemption
Luka Doncic has put on a show lately, even if the team hasn’t been ticking the win column — it’s primarily the reason there is so much optimism still around the fan base.
In their last meeting, Doncic had a quiet eight points, four rebounds, six assists in 22 minutes. In those early December games he was averaging a solid 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists. In this losing stretch he’s put up 23 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Though the Mavericks are losing games, this block of basketball has been important for Doncic has he continues to learn new ways to run this team. And his return to the AAC feels primed for a big performance, and a little redemption against the Pels.
How to Watch
Tip off is set for 7:30 CT and can be watched on FSSW, the Fox Sports Go app, or NBA League Pass.