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3 things to watch for when the Mavericks host the Spurs

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The Mavericks will try to build on a win against the defending champions as the Spurs try to right the ship.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Dallas Mavericks Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks enter the week at 7-5, fresh off a win against the defending NBA Champions who, as far as I know, returned every important piece from their title team and definitely didn’t lose anyone that mattered. What’s that? Oh, right.

Anywho, that Mavericks will play host to a familiar foe on Monday night: The Spurs de San Antonio.

It wasn’t so long ago that the San Antonio Spurs were 3-0. They come to the American Airlines Center sitting at 5-8, and losers of 5 straight. The last of those losses falling on the shoulders of Tim Duncan or Becky Hammon depending on who you listen to.

Dallas hopes to show they’ve figured some things out. San Antonio wants to prove they’re still the Spurs we’ve come to know and hate.

Here’s a few things to keep an eye on:

Can the Mavericks make a damn three-point shot?

In their last five games, the Mavericks have shot 60/203 on three-point field goals, good for 29.6 percent. On the season, the Orlando Magic are last in the league at 29.5 percent. The fact that Dallas has won two of those last five games is damn near a miracle. The Mavericks are currently at 32.9 percent through 12 games, putting them 23rd out of 30 teams. If they want to be a playoff team in 2020, the three-point shooting must improve. And, as the team somehow still ranks second in the league in offensive rating, any night when the threes are falling should lead to some huge scoring numbers for this team.

LaMarcus Aldridge: the Mavslayer

Ah, LaMarcus Aldridge, the Pride of Seagoville High. Aldridge has had a thing for lighting up the Mavericks going back to his days in Portland. He’s no longer a spring chicken, but Aldridge can still fill it up when the need arises. Aldridge’s scoring has dipped to 18.5 points per game this season, but even more concerning for San Antonio is his 6.5 per game rebounding average, the lowest since his rookie year when he was only playing 22 minutes per game. Aldridge’s minutes have been steady for the last five seasons, but he is attempting a career high in three pointers, which may be dragging him away from the basket. All of this being said, he did put up 30 points and 13 rebounds in a close loss to Portland on Saturday night.

Two good offenses, one below average defense, one bad defense

As mentioned above, Dallas currently sits at second in the league in offensive rating. San Antonio is not far behind at seventh. Defense is another story. Dallas has climbed to 18th in defensive rating, steadily scratching toward their ceiling of ‘average’. San Antonio on the other hand is sitting at 26th in the league, having not held an opponent below 110 points in nearly two weeks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Spurs.

But the name on the front of the jerseys is still the same, so expect the unexpected.

How to watch

Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. CT, and can be watched on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass.