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3 things to watch for as the Mavericks clash with the Grizzlies

The Mavericks look to win back to back at home in an important stretch of division basketball.

Memphis Grizzlies v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks (38-25) play host to the Memphis Grizzlies (31-31) Friday night at American Airlines Center. This follows a dramatic overtime victory for the Mavericks Wednesday night, as they took down Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Grizzlies had a tough road trip following the All-Star break that led to a five-game skid and the risk of surrendering the eighth spot in the West. But Ja Morant & Co. have responded quite nicely with a three-game win streak, including a win against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now the division foes meet for the third time this season, with the visiting team winning each of the previous matchups. The Mavericks were without Kristaps Porzingis in the first, and Luka Doncic in the second. If the Wednesday night game in Dallas is any indication, the stakes will be ramped up to a playoff atmosphere as both teams try to lock in playoff positioning.

Fighting through injury

Luka Doncic has battled two bad ankle sprains, a recent thumb sprain, and now illness. While his health is of primary concern to the team and MFFLs everywhere, he’s not the only one.

The organization is going to be walking a tightrope for the rest of the regular season as they try to manage health and workload, while possibly fighting for home court in the playoffs. Rick Carlisle has seen his bench get shorter and shorter from injury or slump, and there’s a sense watching these playoff-like battles that one more serious injury will force the Mavericks to crawl to the playoffs.

The Mavericks aren’t the only team facing injury trouble. The Grizzlies are without their young frontcourt tandem of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke — look for the Mavericks to try and exploit the Grizzlies around the basket.

Life in the clutch

The Mavericks’ clutch issues this season are well documented. More troubling than the actual win-loss record in these games (13-19) is their Net Rating in those situations. Sporting a rating of -15.3 in the clutch, the Mavericks are 26th in the league with the likes of the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans.

In their Wednesday night game many of the same mistakes that have plagued them came roaring back: turnovers, bad transition defense, missed free throws, and mental errors led to a late Nico Melli three-pointer sent the game to overtime.

Doncic had an impressive sequence in overtime that sealed the win for the Mavericks. Nevertheless the team as a whole can’t seem to shake or correct these shortcomings or play consistently. These games are going to continue to tighten up, and simple plays will be amplified. The previous matchups against the Grizzlies were not close, but don’t be surprised if this game stays close late.

Curry flurry

It’s been written about recently, but it begs mentioning again: Seth Curry is utterly on fire. Since missing two games the first week of February, the Mavericks shooting guard has seen time as a starter, and has come off the bench, but it’s just same song different verse.

Connecting on 43-of-75 three pointers over an 11 game stretch, Curry didn’t just round into the form that many were expecting from the beginning of the season after returning to Dallas — he’s blown those expectations out of the water.

Going 57 percent from three the rest of the season isn’t likely. But that he’s found his touch in this way when the Mavericks so badly need that spark, is enough to get me excited for the postseason.

How to watch

Tip off is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and can be watched on Fox Sports Southwest.