The Dallas Mavericks are 16-7, winners of 8 of their last 10, and are headed for a South of the Border showdown with the 10-14 Detroit Pistons, winners of 4 of their last 5 as a part of the NBA Mexico City Games.
Dallas is coming off of an incredibly frustrating loss to the suddenly formidable Sacramento Kings, while Detroit downed New Orleans on a Derrick Rose game winner on Monday.
The Mavericks are a better team than the Pistons, but matchups could pose a problem.
Here are a few things to keep an eye on:
Delon Wright’s unavailability
Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News reported on Tuesday that Wright will likely be deemed “doubtful” for Thursday’s game. Delon Wright is the best defensive guard the Mavericks can run out on any given night, and if his injury leads to increased minutes for Jalen Brunson and/or J.J. Barea, that could be a problem. Derrick Rose (yes, 2019 Derrick Rose) is playing well. With Wright likely sidelined, and Dorian Finney-Smith busy guarding (the also good!) Luke Kennard, the Mavericks will really need to focus on defense.
Andre Drummond’s big-ass body
Andre Drummond is six foot, ten inches and 280 pounds of the worst possible matchup for the Dallas bigs. Drummond is averaging 17.5 points, 16.7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.9 blocks per game. He’s a tough matchup for any team to cover. I would expect we see some necessary minutes from Boban Marjanovic once Drummond is finished tossing Dwight Powell around like a rag doll. The whole team will need to fight for rebounds, and luckily Kristaps Porzingis has been a significantly better rebounder than Blake Griffin this season. Which leads me to our final item:
What kind of player is Blake Griffin in December 2019?
Griffin has only played in 12 games this season and is averaging 18.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He’s shooting poorly from everywhere. His defensive advanced statistics are bad. But he’s still working his way back into playing shape after missing time early in the season with knee and hamstring issues. There doesn’t seem to be any noticeable trend in the 12 games he’s played this season. He’s been middling and inconsistent. But even an inconsistent Blake Griffin can put up 25 and 10 on a given night. The Griffin/Porzingis matchup has true boom or bust potential, for both players, on both sides of the court
How to watch
The game tips at 8:00 PM Central on FSSW and NBATV. Drink it in, kids.