The Dallas Mavericks are 23-15—sixth in the Western Conference—and have dropped five of their last seven games. The Philadelphia 76ers are coming to the American Airlines Center at 25-14 sitting at a disappointing fifth in the Eastern conference.
Dallas is on the second game of a back-to-back, after a dirty diaper of a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The 76ers, on the other hand, have had a day of rest after two wins earlier this week against the Thunder and the Celtics—an impressive turn following four straight losses.
The Sixers are huge, but Joel Embiid is out. The Mavericks are tired, and are also missing their star big man. Things could be ugly.
Here’s a few things to gaze upon:
The Mavericks defense in the upside down
Kristaps Porzingis is holding opponents to 47.6 percent shooting within 6 feet of the rim, and an even stingier 44.7 percent within 10 feet. Without Porzingis the Mavericks have fallen apart. In the month of December, Dallas was 7th in Defensive Rating and 6th in Defensive Rebounding. So far in January those numbers have dropped to 27th and 26th respectively. Oof. Oof a million.
Look, man, I don’t have a whole lot to say on this front. Dallas gave up 45 first-quarter points to a Laker team without Anthony Davis last night. When Kristaps plays, the team has been middling-to-decent on defense. When Kristaps is out, they’re the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Get well soon, KP.
The Assassination of three-point shooting by the Coward Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons is a very good basketball player, and playing without Joel Embiid can actually accentuate the positive aspects of his game. However you want to classify his position: he’s fun to watch. That being said, he will never live up to his full potential if he continues to refuse to shoot three pointers. Brett Brown is dying over here, man.Help him out. He seems nice and he has that fun Mainer accent. Lining up opposite of our soulless gunner, Luka Doncic, might be just the challenge Simmons needs to let it fly. If I’m making a prediction for the game, I’d say Simmons and Doncic combine for 16 three point attempts, and ONLY 14 of them will be from Luka.
The Wright Stuff
Delon Wright has gotten opportunities to make his mark on these Dallas Mavericks. So far this season he’s been a solid yet unspectacular complementary piece. In the last three games Wright has received a good chunk of minutes and a couple of appearances in the starting lineup. How has he produced? 6.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. Is this bad? No. Is it good? Also no, not really. The Dallas Mavericks need more from Delon Wright—especially when they’re shorthanded. If his overall play (and his defense specifically) against the Sixers looks the way it did against the Lakers, the Mavericks are in trouble.
How to watch
The game tips at 7:30 p.m. Central on FSSW and NBA League Pass—a horrible way to spend $28.99 per month. Eat up.