The Dallas Mavericks (31-21) visit the Charlotte Hornets (16-35) Saturday night, after facing the Washington Wizards on Friday. The Mavericks, who have been more effective on the road this season, are still trying to find some consistency as they battle the midseason injury bug. Over the last two months four of the five starters have been out with various injuries — most recently sidelining star Luka Doncic.
Now the Mavericks will look to avenge an overtime home loss to the Hornets at the start of the new year. In that game the Mavericks were without both Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis, while Doncic tallied 39 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists (Maxi Kleber also poured in a career high 24 points off the bench).
Containing the backcourt
The Hornets backcourt Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham got the looks they wanted back in January, combining for 56 points and 21 assists. Rozier looked very comfortable along the perimeter, hitting 5-of-8 from three.
To the Mavericks’ credit, their defense is what brought them back from a large first half deficit. But that doesn’t dismiss the troubles they’ve had in guarding the high screen, and containing scoring guards this season.
If the Mavericks want to avoid playing from behind again, being aggressive in containing Rozier and Graham along the perimeter is the place to start.
Can the Mavericks ever win a close game...like ever?
The Mavericks lost another close game in another unique fashion Friday night in D.C., missing a free throw then giving up a Bradley Beal layup unimpeded at the buzzer. This team is simply bad in the clutch. Injuries haven’t helped, but even healthy it hasn’t mattered.
The hope would be the Mavericks would play to their talent level and beat a Hornets team that simply isn’t at the same level. And yet, their last meeting ended in overtime, and too often the Mavericks have played down to opponents. Too many late-game mental errors and few players to turn to for scoring.
The Mavericks will still be without Doncic tonight. Slowing down Rozier and Graham will be the first step — finding an outlet when the going get’s tough is next.
Winning with threes
In their first matchup, the Mavericks were off from three, shooting 15-of-50 while the Hornets attempted half as many (but connected on 44-percent. Last night they were a solid 16-of-40...but the Wizards were 19-of-38. The Mavericks should have won that game, but they made it a lot harder letting the Wizards go 50-percent from deep.
Charlotte finds themselves in the bottom ten of the league in Team Three-Point Percentage, with only three current players shooting over 35-percent on the season (Marvin Williams was another, but just agreed to a buyout). The Mavericks should be able to use the three in their favor — as long as they keep Rozier, Graham and rookie P.J. Washington uncomfortable around the perimeter.
How to Watch
Tip-off is set for 6 CT and can be watched on FSSW.