The Dallas Mavericks (19-43) will tank on — oh, sorry.. sorry, Mr. Silver — TAKE on the Chicago Bulls (20-41) tonight in the Windy City. In what many have called a “race to the bottom” of the standings, this matchup between two teams hoping for a high pick could have big implications for the draft order this summer. The Mavs certainly aren't trying to lose, as proven in their recent victory against the Indiana Pacers and their one-point competitive overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, this season has been weird, and it seems as if the Mavs have struggled more against the non-playoff teams at times. At this point in the season, that may be a good thing, though.
Here’s three things to watch for tonight.
The Mavs may be in for another barn-burner
The last time the Mavs and Bulls met on January 5, Chicago barely pulled away with a 127-124 win. The Mavs shot 53-percent from the field, and the Bulls shot even better than that at 56-percent. Both teams knocked down 14 three pointers each as well. It was a fun game to watch, and if we’re lucky, maybe tonight’s game will be just as fun as the OKC game on Wednesday.
Trying to slow down Kris Dunn
Dunn torched the Mavs last time with 32 points (on 12-17 shooting) and nine assists. He was also very active on the defensive end as well, recording four steals. Dennis Smith Jr. had a decent outing as well, with 15 points, seven assists and three steals, but he also had five turnovers and simply couldn’t stop Dunn from scoring. We’ll see how much Smith learned from the previous matchup against Dunn. Regardless, it’ll be fun to watch the two young point guards duke it out for the final time this season.
This is a big game for “the race to the bottom”
At the moment, there are eight teams that look to have a legit shot at landing the first overall pick in the draft: Magic, Kings, Grizzlies, Suns, Mavs, Hawks, Nets and Bulls. Only two games separate these teams, and six of them are only a half game back of the
first last spot. With playoff hopes shattered and another stacked draft class coming up, teams are trying to put themselves in the best position possible, or at least the front offices are.
The Mavs are one of the six teams that are only half a game back of last place. The Bulls are currently eighth-worst, only 1.5 games better than the Mavs. Even if Dallas wins this game, they’ll still have better lottery odds than Chicago for the time being, but if they were to lose, it would create even more of a buffer, which will no doubt matter in a tight race.
Disclaimer: I’m not advocating for #TeamTank. I’m simply informing you of the situation. Although I want the team to compete as hard as they can (win or lose), I understand the advantages that come with having a higher draft pick. There is more talent available and a bigger variety of choices that can be made the higher your team can pick.
How to watch
The Mavs and Bulls will tipoff at 7:00 p.m. Central time. The game can be watched on FSSW and NBA League Pass.