Both the Mavericks (18-9) and the Sixers (20-9) are coming off maddening Wednesday night ESPN national tv losses. Phladelphia fell late at home despite a vigorous rally to Miami, whereas the Mavericks found themselves unable to score late against Boston.
Each team currently sits atop their respective division and each has just nine losses thus far in the 2019-20 season. The clash tonight is the first contest between two of the best teams, record-wise, in the NBA.
Here’s a few things to think about before or during the game.
How do the Mavericks stop Joel Embiid?
I shudder to think that Dwight Powell will start on Embiid, should the Mavericks go ‘man’ on defense. And yet, in my heart of hearts I expect just this because Powell’s offense is so important to Dallas and Kristaps Porzingis is a better help defender than lock-down man guy anyhow. Maxi Kleber? Start? In this economy? Guys come on.
Embiid is averaging 23 points and 12.5 rebounds per game and many experts think he’s having a tough year (he is only shooting 46% from the floor, a poor number for one of the largest and most skilled basketball players on the plant), but that’s mainly because of the talent he flashes.
The main hope for Dallas is that Embiid either gets into foul trouble or falls in love with the three point line, where he’s only a legend in his own mind (he shoots 30% from distance). He is his own worst enemy.
The Mavericks need to, um, hit shots.
Rocket science, I know. But this is the type of content you get when I write the recap for the last game and no one signs up for the preview for the next game and I have a planned day off from work Friday.
Dallas needs to shoot over 40% to win. Don’t believe me? Here’s the voice of the Mavericks Chuck Cooperstein with an incredible statistic:
I don't know if it's a record, but the fact that Mavs have now lost 45 straight games since Nov 2016 when shooting < 40% is just insane. You would think you would fall into one by accident, but it is troubling to say the least.— Chuck Cooperstein (@coopmavs) December 19, 2019
45 straight games! I complain about everything, it’s what I do, and I had no idea a streak that long was in the running. The Sixer length and defense is going to cause problems for the Mavericks, it’s really that direct.
But if the team is about 40% from the field? They have a chance!
The injuries are piling up
Missing Luka Doncic for another national television game is maddening enough. As of this writing, it seems both Seth Curry (back tightness) and Delon Wright (sprained finger) are up in the air in terms of availability.
Save those happy few calling for extended minutes for J.J. Barea in the Year of our Lord 2019, this is pretty bad news. Seth Curry’s been on a hot shooting streak. The Mavericks need Delon Wright to dribble all around and theoretically get into the paint and hit shots and play defense and do all those thigns we’ve seen from time to time. If both are out, things are BLEAK for Dallas.
How to watch
The game tips off at 7:00 pm and can be watched on ESPN.