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3 things to watch for when the Mavericks visit the Heat

Miami is slumping while Dallas is trying to win three in a row for the first time since mid-January.

NBA: Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavericks and Heat battle for the second time this season after Miami defeated Dallas in December in ovetime, 122-118. Luka Doncic sprained his ankle in the opening minutes, and the Mavericks comeback attempt was thwarted in extra minutes.

Coming into tonight Miami has lost four of five, including back-to-back losses against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers. However, Miami is 23-4 at home, so the Mavericks will need to be the road warriors they’ve been this season to knock off the Heat.

Here’s what to watch for Friday:

Luka Doncic.. in Miami.. on his 21st birthday

Is the Miami nightlife undefeated? We shall soon find out as Doncic crosses the threshold of proverbial adulthood while going toe-to-toe with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo Friday night in Miami. As a 20 year old, Doncic is averaging nearly 29 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists. Will Doncic’s supreme basketball skills outperform the Miami nightlife? Only time will tell, but Doncic has had an otherworldly start to his career, notching the most triple doubles - by a margin as wide as a chasm - before turning 21. Sitting at 21 career triple doubles, Doncic created a massive gap between Magic Johnson’s seven and LeBron James’ five career triple doubles before turning 21.

Defending Jimmy Butler

After DeMar DeRozan had his way with the Mavericks Wednesday night, I’m slightly concerned with Dallas’ ability to limit Butler. Coming into tonight, Butler is averaging 20 points and six assists and plays a similar game to DeRozan largely in the sense he refuses to shoot from behind the arc. Dallas deployed a zone at times Wednesday against DeRozan and the Spurs, and it proved to be effective. But Miami is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league, so the Mavericks will need to be judicious when they stray from man-to-man defense.

Seth Curry shooting flames

With Dwight Powell going down with injury, Rick Carlisle has appeared to settle with Curry in the starting lineup, and it’s hard to argue with the results. In the four games Curry has started since the all-star break, he’s contributing 13.5 points per game while shooting 42 percent from three. Back that up to the previous eight games and the numbers are almost staggering as Curry is pumping in 16.6 points while shooting 52 percent from three on almost six attempts per game. The former Maverick and Trail Blazer seemed to fit the bill as an ideal backcourt partner with Doncic, and it seems to finally be coming to fruition.

How to watch

The game tips off at 7 p.m. CT and can be watched on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass.