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3 things to watch for as the Mavericks face off with the Pelicans

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Dallas and New Orleans battle for the final time this season as both teams’ seasons have spiraled.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (28-41) are fresh off a 121-116 take down of the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday night and are looking for the team’s first two-game win streak since early February as they take on the New Orleans Pelicans (30-42) who have lost six straight.

The Mavericks finally ended the skid Saturday behind Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 22 points and are looking to tie the season series with the Pelicans tonight. Here’s what to watch for:

DIRK

With Dirk Nowitzki’s status for next season up in the air, we’re pretty much on Dirk watch for the final 13 games of the season. But everyone is in store for a potentially historic night as the NBA legend is only four points away from passing Wilt Chamberlain for sixth all time on the NBA’s scoring list. Nowitzki has played well in the last five games, averaging 10 points while shooting 49 percent from the field and 50 percent from the field. Here’s to hoping for a vintage Dirk performance in what could be a historic night.

Luka’s return

Luka Doncic finally received some rest Saturday night after playing through a variety of injuries, with the most egregious offense occurring against the San Antonio Spurs where he registered is worst performance of his season. But as of this writing, Doncic is probable to play and it’s worth noting how dominant the rookie has been in his return after games he’s sat this year.

In the three games after Doncic has returned from his various respites, he’s averaged 28 points, 10 rebounds and six assists while shooting 48 percent from three (on 10-of-21 attempts) while playing 31 minutes or more in all three games. Doncic has looked worn down during this final stretch, but don’t be shocked to see a rejuvenated and reinvigorated performance.

Elfrid Payton and Julius Randle

With Jrue Holiday out with an abdomen injury and Anthony Davis’ playing time being monitored, it’s the Randle and Payton show for the Pelicans. The latter has been on a tear, recording a triple double in his last four games averaging nearly 15 points, 13.5 rebounds and 13 assists. It hasn’t resulted in victories for New Orleans, but expect Payton to stuff the stat sheet once again.

Randle, a Dallas native, has taken the next step this season averaging 21 points and almost nine rebounds per game, and has upped his game since the all-star break. Even further, the former Kentucky wildcat has had his way with the Mavericks, averaging 24 points and 11 rebounds in the three games against Dallas. In the first matchup, Randle posted a monster 27 points and 18 rebounds, so slowing down the Prestonwood Christian alumnus should be a top priority of the Mavericks. Unfortunately, Ranle poses a matchup problem for the Mavericks big men who lack the strength or quickness to effectively defend him.

How to watch

The game tips off at 7:30 CT and can be watched on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass.