The Pacers took the first matchup between these two teams in January, 111-99. The Pacers suffocated the Mavericks defensively, and Luka Doncic was ejected for kicking the basketball after struggling for 24 minutes. The rookie expressed his dismay at his ejection post game stating the rules for kicking a basketball are different in Europe. Nonetheless, the Mavericks never could recover from Doncic’s early exit.
The Pacers are trying to keep the Philadelphia 76ers off their heels in the Eastern Conference race while the Mavericks are floundering in no man’s land. Here’s what to watch for when these teams tip.
Dwight Powell’s surge
Powell is coming off a fantastic three game stretch in which he averaged nearly 19 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes per game. Monday against the Clippers Powell pumped in a career-high 24 points on an absurd 10-of-11 shooting night while pulling down eight rebounds.
Maybe it’s a coincidence Powell’s surge has coincided with Dirk Nowitzki’s bump in playing time, but those two have been a part of some lethal lineups the past few years, so this correlation makes sense. Powell will have his hands full with Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and Thaddeus Young, but he’s played well as of late.
Wesley Matthews return
After Matthews buyout in New York, he found a nice landing spot with the Indiana Pacers. In five games Matthews has averaged 13.6 points while shooting 44 percent nearly seven attempts in 31 minutes per game. With the Mavericks forced to rebuild, Matthews’ time in Dallas had naturally run it’s course. But Matthews leadership and work ethic endeared him to the fans and front office, even though his tendency to pound the ball and hoist shots frustrated just about everyone. However, it’s nice to see Matthews doing well on a playoff bound team.
Luka’s hopeful revenge
In the first matchup with the Pacers, Doncic played arguably his worst game as a professional. In 24 minutes the rookie recorded eight points, five rebounds and six assists while shooting an abysmal 3-of-14 from the field including 0-of-5 from three. Led by Victor Oladipo’s tenacious defense, the Pacers held Doncic to his lowest point total since registered only seven points agains the Orlando Magic on December 10.
Though Doncic recorded his fourth triple double of the season, he still coughed the ball up nine times against the Clippers. There isn’t a pass Doncic doesn’t think he can make, and sometimes that gets him into trouble. But there’s no reason to rein in the Rookie of the Year favorite now. Expect the Pacers to get physical with Doncic again, only this time there’s good reason to believe he’ll be ready for it. After all the phenom is averaging 25 points, nine rebounds and nearly eight assists per game in his last 10 games.
How to watch
The game tips of at 7:30 CT and can be watched on NBATV and Fox Sports Southwest.