The Golden State Warriors (28-14) return to the Metroplex to face the Mavericks (20-22) for the second time this season in Dallas and the third time overall. The season series is tied up at 1-1.
Here’s what to watch for:
Life Without J.J.
J.J. Barea has been such a big part of the Dallas Mavericks’ offense for so long that it’s almost impossible to think about how the team will fill that role. After his Achilles’ injury on Friday, it seemed like the solution was more Luka Doncic and more Jalen Brunson. We’ll see if that continues after a few days off to draw up a Barea-less gameplan.
It will be interesting to see if Rick Carlisle takes this as a chance to play more youth (Brunson) or if he’d rather give more minutes to a veteran guard like Devin Harris.
For the season, Barea was averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 assists, and 2.5 rebounds per game, with above-average efficiency.
Defense, Defense, Defense
Simply put, the Mavericks aren’t going to out-shoot the Golden State Warriors. If this were just a matchup of offenses, Dallas would lose. Mostly because they don’t have a Kevin Durant of their own.
So, one thing to watch will be how Dallas attempts to slow down Durant and challenge shots from Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. To this point in the season, the Warriors have settled for those outside shots instead of driving to the hoop, so this could be a game where DeAndre Jordan is not very useful for the Dallas defense.
On the other side of the ball, GSW is still playing some of the best defense in the league when Draymond Green is on the court. Luka might have the skills to create shots for his teammates against even that level of defense, but they’ll have to hit those open threes to keep pace with the fire-breathing Warriors.
The Home Court Advantage
The last time the Warriors came to Dallas, they left town with a loss. If you’re looking for the biggest reason for that, check the number of free throws taken by each team. The Mavericks literally shot twice as many FTs (34) than the Warriors (17) on that night.
Even though Dallas shot a worse FT%, they ended up with 6 more points from the charity stripe than Golden State (and won the game by 3 points).
Studies have shown that the “home court advantage” is real in that referees will, subconsciously, call more fouls for the home team than against them to appease the crowd. The Mavericks would be smart to, once again, come up with a game plan that takes advantage of that.
Drive, drive, drive, and kick. When there are open shooters, find them and hope they hit those shits. When there are not, go strong through contact and try and get the call. If the referees are not calling the game the way Dallas wants, they’ll have to switch their game plan up. Until then....
How to watch
Tipoff is at 6:00 p.m. Central and the game can be watched on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass.