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3 things to watch as the Mavericks stay on the road to take on the Warriors

Dallas plays Golden State for the final time this season, which means it’s Dirk’s final time in the infamous arena.

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NBA: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks are free-falling, with only two wins in their last 17 games. After trading away four of the five players in their season-opening starting lineup, the Mavericks haven’t been too concerned with winning games.

That trend is unlikely to change Saturday night, as the Mavericks take on the defending champion Warriors. Golden State will be resting a lot of their stars, but that shouldn’t make too much of a difference.

It’s hard to watch the Mavericks right now, especially when Luka Doncic isn’t doing special things. Nevertheless, there’s a game on the schedule so here we are.

Dirk’s final game at Oracle Arena

If you’ve been a Mavericks fan throughout Dirk’s career, you know the significance of the Warriors home arena. It’s where Dirk and the 67-win Mavericks lost their first round series to the eighth-seeded Warriors in 2007, becoming the first one-seed to lose a first-round seven game series in NBA history.

The loss is by far the blackest spot on Dirk’s mostly pristine career resume, especially combining that with the previous season’s loss to the Heat in the Finals after being up 2-0. We all remember Dirk holding his MVP trophy with a wooden smile at a press conference, with the Mavericks already eliminated. It was the first time I’ve ever seen an MVP have to accept the award at a presser and not in front of his home fans, which had been the tradition since most MVPs played on teams that didn’t lose in six games in the first round. Ugh.

So for terrible reasons, this is a “special” game for Dirk. Being the dude he is, he’s sort of embraced his place in history at the arena and had some fun with it. The Athletic has a great story about Dirk’s history with the arena and the Warriors and it’s a great read that will also probably make your blood boil. The Warriors have told fans to get to the arena early tonight for a special tribute to Dirk, although for real if they just play a highlight reel of that 2007 series I’m gonna fly to Oakland and Bane the arena.

Luka Doncic maybe doing some cool stuff

To say March has been a rough month for Luka would be an understatement. Luka is shooting 38.7 percent from the field, 21.9 percent from three in 10 games this month. It’s by far his worst month of the season and of course he’s still managing to average 21.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.

A lot of the trouble stems from two things: Luka is running out of gas and his teammates stink. Luka got banged up in a game against Houston two weeks ago and has been nursing some sort of injury most of the month. It hasn’t left him visibly hobbled, but it’s clear that he’s just exhausted from his first NBA schedule, not far removed from playing a lot of games in Europe the last two years.

You know what else doesn’t help? Crappy teammates! The Mavericks aren’t giving Luka much to work with, as bench role guys are being overextended to sop up the minutes left by all the starters the Mavericks traded in February. Aside from Jalen Brunson and somehow Dwight Powell, no other Maverick is really giving Luka a good outlet. Justin Jackson and Devin Harris are the only other players in the rotation above 35 percent from three this month and Jackson is at 35.3 and Harris 36. Tim Hardaway Jr. is hurt now, but he’s was at 31 percent. Maxi Kleber is at 30.4 percent. Dorian Finney-Smith is at 29.7 percent. Hell, even with Brunson’s good month, he’s only at 31 percent. Dirk is only shooting 27.8 percent, for goodness sake! None of the Mavericks can shoot and it’s cramping Luka’s space. If the Mavs can hit some shots, maybe something cool will happen for Luka to bust him from his slump.

Is Justin Jackson for real? Probably not but the team blows so this is what we got

I’m nowhere near ready to call Justin Jackson’s little two-game romp anything more than typical NBA March weirdness. Jackson has scored 21 and 19 points in his last two games respectively and has looked OK.

Unfortunately, this happens in the NBA every March. Role guys go off against disinterested teams since the NBA is in the dog days portion of the schedule. The All-Star break is over, the Playoffs are still a month away and teams could not be bothered to give their best effort right now. Everyone is either trying to stay healthy for the playoffs or lose for draft positioning except for the handful of teams scraping for the eighth seed.

So I very much doubt Jackson’s performance means much going forward but it’s at least somewhat neat to see a Mavericks player do much of anything. Outside of Luka and Brunson, it’s been slim-pickings for weeks.

How to watch

The game tips off at 7:30 p.m. CT and you can watch on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass.