The Dallas Mavericks continue their six-game home stand with a Western Conference battle against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, and have a chance to claim two wins in a row for the first time since the new year ticked over.
The last time these two teams met was back at the start of the season, a time when we were still unsure of what this Mavericks team could do. The leading scorers for Dallas were surprisingly Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber, with 14 points each.
Had I been told the two Mavericks’ superstars in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis would combine for 22 points, and still get the win on the road, I’m sure I would have thought it was a mistake.
Here’s what to look for:
Who Guards Nikola Jokić?
The Nuggets’ big man is giving his team 18.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists this season, but back in October, Jokić’s scoring was only limited to 10 points - he did however fill the rest of the stat sheet with 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
With Kristaps Porzingis still out with a knee injury, It’s going to take a collective effort from Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber and Boban Marjanovic to try and slow him down. Jokić’s ability to play inside and out will keep the Mavericks bigs on their toes all night.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
After missing three games with a hamstring injury, Hardaway Jr. returned to the court against the Chicago Bulls on Monday night with 15 points, four rebounds, and two assists in 21 minutes.
It’s unsure whether or not his minutes will be monitored against the Nuggets, but if he can put up similar numbers in limited minutes, it may be all the Mavericks need from him while he gets himself back to his regular playing time.
Dallas’ bench dominance
The Mavericks’ reserve players have been one of the biggest reasons for their success this season, sitting fifth place overall in bench scoring. The Nuggets, while not horrible, are further back in the pack at nineteenth.
The Mavericks will need a team effort to take down the second-best team in the west, and if they can keep the Nuggets’ bench to their mean, it will go a long way to getting this win over Denver.
How to watch
The game tips off at 6:30 CT and can be watched on ESPN.
Additionally, we recorded a preview-adjacent podcast with Adam Mares of DNVR Sports. Give it a listen HERE if you don’t see the embed below!