The Dallas Mavericks (17-7) took care of business in Mexico City, and now they’re tasked with hosting the Miami Heat (18-7). It is the first game in what feels like an impossible stretch facing the top five Eastern Conference teams, consecutively.
Though it will be a tough matchup for the Mavericks, they are lucky to catch the Heat on the second night of a back-to-back. Miami hosted LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night, a nail-biting 113-110 loss — the first home loss for the Heat.
Here’s what we’re watching for in tonight’s game.
Don’t need a Herro
Erik Spoelstra’s Heat squad is an interesting collection of talent, though on paper they probably shouldn’t be as hot as they’ve been. With marquee wins against the Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors, Jimmy Butler has brought this young squad along quite nicely.
While Butler and post-presence Bam Adebayo will garner much of the attention from the Mavericks (and Dallas will have their hands full), they’ll need to keep close watch on the rookie guard tandem of Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro.
Nunn, a 24 year old rookie that’s started every game for the Heat this season, has been sensational. He’s scored over 20 points in eight games this season, and recently put up 36 against the Atlanta Hawks.
Herro, a 20 year old taken in the late lottery in last summer’s NBA Draft, has looked the part of another Kentucky Wildcat who maybe should have been featured more in college and is coming into his own in Miami. Both players can get hot, and could pose problems for the Mavericks if they focus too hard on shutting down Butler and Bam.
The Mavericks pride themselves on limiting turnovers, and they’ve been very smart with the ball this season. At under 13 turnovers per game the Mavericks lead the league in protecting the ball. On the flip-side, they also force the least.
The Heat, however, cough the ball up to the tune of nearly 18 per game (last in the league). And while Miami does a good job defensively to force opponent’s into mistakes (9th in the league at 16 per game), that may prove tough against the Mavericks. The turnover battle may tell the story.
Winning by Committee
Both teams have superstars at their disposal, in Luka Doncic and Jimmy Butler. The Mavericks have shown flashes of their depth being able to win them basketball games, but on the stat sheet they have just three players averaging double digit points per game — Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, and Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Miami Heat have featured a committee of scorers this season, with seven players averaging double digits. Last night in their loss to the Lakers, five of the nine-man rotation for the Heat scored at least 10 points. They are battling injury issues with key players, but they’re getting contributions from the whole roster. Both teams have a collection of talent that can go off on any night, and both teams may need that Saturday night.
How to Watch
Tip off is set for 7:30 CT, and can be watched on FSSW.