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3 things to watch as Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade clash one last time

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A final matchup between legends in the twilight of the season

NBA: Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (29-45) head east for Thursday night’s game against the Miami Heat (36-38). Dallas has won just three times since All-Star break while the Heat are just a half game back of the Orlando Magic for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern conference playoffs.

Miami won the first matchup in Dallas, the final game before All-Star weekend, 112-101. The Mavericks have little to play for at this point, though they can play the role of spoiler for the Heat’s playoff hopes.

Here’s what to watch for:

Dirk Nowitzki versus Dwyane Wade one last time

Howard Beck of Bleacher Report wrote on the connection Wade and Dirk share across NBA history despite playing different positions and in different conferences for their entire career (he also went on the Lowe Post to talk about it). It’s maddening for some to see the two titans compared at all but I can’t recommend the piece enough. The link exists, whether we want it to or not.

It’s taken time but I’m finally at peace with everything. 2006 will always hurt us, that sort of pain doesn’t truly fade. But without that pain, the joy of 2011 isn’t the same either. Dirk’s lived a hero’s journey in sports and I’m drawn time and again to a piece by Andy Tobolowsky about the the giants of the 2000’s NBA leaving the sport:

There comes a time at the end of things when our enemies are at last as harmless as our friends. When it becomes clear that what we have been doing all this time is squabbling over memory, erecting monuments and counter-monuments, ascribing and effacing. In the end, the enemy of all alike is not one other, but the fading of memory.

Dirk’s place in NBA history is secure. Our belief in Dirk has been rewarded many times over. Time to soak up this bit of history.

Will Luka Doncic get another triple double?

He’s hit the mark in the last two games and in three of the last five. Points and rebounding happen easily enough over the course of the game for Doncic, since few other Mavericks are reliably good at either aspect of the game. Assists are the stat to watch; we all know how many open looks Doncic finds for teammates. It’s mainly a matter of them actually hitting the shots.

Ryan Broekhoff, bucket-getter

Broekhoff’s hit the double digit scoring mark in three straight games now. Consistent playing time helps his cause, as does playing with guys who find the open man (hey Luka). It’s been a puzzle as to why Broekhoff hasn’t played more this season, past his newness to the Mavericks generally. He’s an excellent shooter who plays hard at all times. Can’t really ask a guy to do more given his athletic profile and size. Let’s hope he gets to double figures again against Miami.

How to watch:

The game starts at 6:30 CST and can be found on FOX Sports Southwest or on NBA League Pass.