The Dallas Mavericks (3-1) tackle their first back-to-back of the season Friday night, by making a visit to the Denver Nuggets (2-2) after their 104-100 victory against the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night.
The Mavericks, now winners of three straight, have yet to play a complete game this season. Nevertheless, they’ve found ways to finish games — notable given their habit of failing to close out close games in the recent past.
Here is what we’re watching for tonight!
It didn’t take long for the Mavericks to face health questions. While they navigate a compact schedule this week, with another game on Sunday against the Sacramento Kings, a few names popped up on the injury report prior to yesterday’s game. Kristaps Porzingis (Back), Sterling Brown (Ankle), Trey Burke (Health & Safety Protocol), and Boban Marjanovic (Back) all made appearances on the report.
The big name is obviously Porzingis, and is worth monitoring closely after looking fresh following a healthy offseason. At the time of this writing it is unclear if any of these players will be available for the second night of the back-to-back.
It is worth noting that reigning-MVP Nikola Jokic is also recovering from what is now being reported as a minor knee injury, after colliding with Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. At the time of this writing he is being listed as “Questionable” for the game.
Through four games the Mavericks have been outscored by 23 in the first quarter. To be honest, it’s felt like 53. Yes they have managed to regain composure and steal wins back in three straight. But it’s all at the hands of teams that are destined for the lottery next summer.
They simply can’t afford to be slow out of the gate as competition stiffens. Tonight’s game, even if Jokic doesn’t play, will be a nice barometer for the Mavericks against a team that should be a playoff lock.
As Kirk Henderson said on the Mavs Moneyball After Dark podcast, Jalen Brunson has been the best Maverick through four games. He is averaging 13 points, five rebounds and six assists, while shooting 47-percent from three in 27 minutes per game (all noticeable improvements in each category). We all knew the Sixth Man of the Year candidate was an effective scorer, but early this season (and EARLY needs to emphasized) he’s showing elite vision and is asserting himself all over the floor.
Jason Kidd has put a lot of trust in Brunson, allowing him to run the second unit and also play alongside Luka Doncic late in games. This contract year from the fourth-year guard has started with a bang, and he should look to feast against the likes of Monte Morris and Facundo Campazzo.
How to Watch
Tip off is set for 9 PM CT, and can be watched on ESPN or locally on Bally Sports SW.