The Dallas Mavericks (39-26) head back out on the road to face off against the San Antonio Spurs (26-36) after a rough loss against the Pacers on Sunday. The Spurs, after fighting off what feels like a decade of “this is the year the Spurs crumble,” talk from pundits and fans alike, have finally, it seems, succumbed to the gravity of mediocrity. And not to pile on, but they’re in a particularly rough stretch as it stands before this game, with San Antonio having won only 2 of their last 7 games, each victory coming by only a single point against the lowly Hornets and Magic.
The Mavericks, however, are as banged up as they’ve been all season, and as much as we’d like another all-star break to mend some bumps and bruises, perhaps a game against a struggling, lottery-bound Spurs is about the best thing we can hope for.
There are some noteworthy things to look for come tip-off.
Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!
On Tuesday, the Mavericks have a chance to do something never before done in franchise history. Sweep the Spurs.
The Mavericks/Spurs rivalry has been forged by a decade of perennial contention by both Texas teams, locked in unavoidable conflict within the Southwest Division. But even before Dirk and Duncan were clashing on the regular, in franchise history, Dallas has never had a season sweep of San Antonio, dating back to the ‘80-’81 season.
The Spurs, to their credit, have swept the Mavs eight times — the most recent coming just last year. In the interest of starting to even that score a little bit, what better way to respect this marvelous rivalry than to rub some salt on San Antonio’s wounds and help push them just that much further down the hill.
Give Luka a Helmet
I mentioned it briefly already, and this bullet point is basically a mainstay of the game previews at this point, but it has to be said… please let this team get healthy. We’ve had ankle sprains, back tightness, illness, banged up thumbs, bad knees - you name it. In the most recent tilt, just to mix things up a bit, Luka got repeatedly whacked in the face, including once when an airborne Edmond Summer managed to actually knee the 6’7” guard in the side of the head somehow.
Luckily, Kristaps Porzingis and Doncic seem to be holding up well enough to play each night (though it’s debatable as to whether Luka should give his thumb a week or so off), but we’ve seen how important role plays like Tim Hardaway Jr and Seth Curry have become, and this team needs to be as close to 100 percent as possible if they’re going to make some noise in the postseason.
Anything less than great offense isn’t good enough
Since the new year, Dallas owns an 18-14 record. Of those 18 wins, only three were achieved while scoring less than 110 points — two with 109 (one against the Spurs, as it were) and one with 107. It doesn’t take an analytical genius to see that the Dallas Mavericks, owners of the NBA’s best offensive rating, have built their identity around scoring a ton of points in order to win. Sure, defense is great, and KP’s block count gets more impressive every game it seems, but if this team wants to win consistently, they have to absolutely fill it up night in and night out.
Hopefully, they can shake off whatever it is that has them shooting under 33 percent from deep in three of their last five games (the return of one Seth Curry would certainly help in that regard) and get out of San Antonio with a season-sweeping win over the Spurs.
How to watch
Another nationally televised game - tip off is 7:00 pm on TNT.