The Good Guys:
· The Dallas Mavericks: 33 and 22, seventh in the Western Conference.
The Bad Guys:
· The Orlando Magic: 24 and 31, eighth in the Eastern Conference.
· Dallas went to the break following the destruction of the doormat Sacramento Kings in Luka Doncic’s return from injury.
· Orlando has lost eight of their last eleven games but went to the break with two straight wins.
One Extremely Hot Take:
· Aaron Gordon will switch jerseys midway through the game and demand to be made a member of the Mavericks.
Here’s a few things to keep an eye on:
We all know the Mavericks have dealt with injuries to several of their most important players throughout this season, but the roster we see on Friday may be essentially completely healthy. Other than Dwight Powell who, for purposes of this discussion, no longer exists this season. Kristaps Porzingis has played in 11 of the last 13 games and has now had a nice week or so off to rest and drink on a boat or whatever. He should be ready to go. Luka was able to come back right before the break and put up a tidy 33 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists after a two-week layoff. Luka looked healthy, though maybe a tad overwhelmed, in the 5 or 10 minutes he got to play in the All-Star Game. He should be ready to get back on the court as well. Carlisle will likely continue to tinker with lineups, but the team as we see it Friday may be as good as it gets.
Might Kidd-Gilchrist get some run?
New Maverick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been with the team for about 10 days at this point. I would expect we see him on the court sooner rather than later. The team seems to have their sights on him being a big wing defender who can hopefully knock down the occasional three-pointer. And maybe that’s possible for him if he’s playing with guys like KP and Luka. I think he might be better utilized as a slashing small ball center. A Great Value Draymond Green. A Best Choice PJ Tucker, if you will. He’s not been good this year, but he’s not really been given a chance. Carlisle loves a reclamation project and has had success with a few of them. Al-Farouq Aminu comes to mind as a player to look toward. Hopefully MKG can become some sort of piece for this team, and maybe one day we’ll get to see the Tres Hyphens lineup. That being said, #BroekhoffForLife
Aaron Gordon: Future Mav
Did Aaron Gordon get robbed in the dunk contest? I don’t know, maybe? I mean he definitely had the best dunk of the night, but Derrick Jones Jr. was pretty great too. We got a chance to hate on Dwyane Wade, so it’s all good I guess. THAT BEING SAID, Aaron Gordon may come out on Friday like a cyclone, looking to destroy everything in his path.
Gordon’s numbers this year haven’t been great. He’s averaged 14.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. But can you blame him for being a little disinterested? Playing for Orlando the last several (five and a half!) years must be kind of depressing. It’s just Kings East or Pistons South. But Gordon has looked great recently, putting up 26, 9, and 4 followed by 25, 9, and 9 in the last two games prior to the break. If he can carry that momentum, along with his rage over losing another dunk contest, into Friday’s game; expect him to be a handful.
How to watch
The game tips at 6:00 PM Central and can be seen on FSSW and NBA League Pass which, now that I’m watching via Roku instead of Fire TV stick, isn’t all bad. Get your shit together, Bezos.
Yesterday, Kirk talked with Chris Barnewall, a Magic fan and writer for Uproxx about the Magic. Listen below in the embed or if you cant see it, click here to be taken to the podcast directly. Search Mavs Moneyball Podcast on your podcast app and subscribe!