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3 things to watch for as the Mavericks battle the Kings

Two tanks going head-to-head. This will be good.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Dallas Mavericks Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (16-36) travel to Sacramento to take on the Kings (16-34) in some Saturday late night hoops. These two teams faced off in the second game of the season when the Kings took one in the American Airlines Center, 93-88. George Hill led the Kings with 21 points, and Harrison Barnes paced the Mavs with 24 of his own. This game was so long ago, Dorian Finney-Smith was the second leading scorer with 14, and Nerlens Noel played 27 minutes.

Sacramento is coming off a good (depending on how you look at it) win over the New Orleans Pelicans, while Dallas is riding a five-game losing streak. Here’s what to watch for as two of the best teams at losing face off.

Dennis Smith Jr. versus De’Aaron Fox

Smith Jr. sat out game two of the NBA season with an injury, so tonight will be the first official game in which the two lottery point guards face off. Fox has had a relatively pedestrian season, which is perfectly fine for a rookie point guard. He’s averaging 11 points and four assists while splitting time with George Hill.

On the other hand, Smith Jr. is averaging 15 points, five assists and four rebounds, but has bumped those averages in the past 10 games or so playing some solid basketball for the Mavericks. By no means should these young players’ careers be judged from the first 50 or so games of the season, but hopefully, tonight is a glimpse into the future of a prominent NBA point guard battle for years to come.

Low scoring affair?

Don’t expect offensive fireworks when these two teams take the floor. The Kings rank dead last in points per game, and the Mavericks score the fifth fewest. Part of the reason is the talent deficiency. Simply put, neither team is very good. But another reason is the pace at which both squads play. Both teams rank in the bottom five in pace. Fewer points scored and a slower pace make each possession more valuable, so it could come down to late game execution.

Old-man ball

Don’t let the youth of Smith Jr., Fox, Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein fool you. You better believe there will be some old-man, YMCA ball out here on the court. Vince Carter (41), Dirk Nowitzki (39) and Zach Randolph (36) can still put their imprints on a game. In fact, Randolph is leading the Kings in scoring at 15 points per game. While the young bucks are reaching for it, the old men haven’t passed the torch yet. Who knows? Maybe Carter will throw down an age-defying dunk, and Dirk and Randolph will lead their respective teams in scoring. Get excited for the young guys on the court, but appreciate the legends still at work.

How to watch

The game tips off at 9:00 CST and can be watched locally on FSSW and out-of-market on NBA League Pass.