The Dallas Mavericks, fresh off getting straight molly whopped by the Denver Nuggets 106-75 on Friday night, head back to the friendly confines of the AAC to take on the Sacramento Kings Sunday afternoon. Last season, the Mavericks did their best Washington Generals impersonation against the Kings, losing all three games against a Sacramento squad that missed the playoffs.
The Kings are off to a solid start this season at 3-2, with wins over the Phoenix Suns and the Portland Trailblazers. The game starts at 2:30 p.m. local time on Halloween, so go ahead and expect the game to get weird. That seems to be the way Mavericks games are trending this season anyway. Kristaps Porzingis and Sterling Brown are listed as questionable.
Here are three things to watch out for during a spooky Sunday afternoon basketball game:
Can the Mavericks contain Harrison Barnes?
That’s right, iso-Harrison has been playing out of his mind this season. Barnes is averaging 25 points and 10 rebounds per game through five games. He started the year with a 36 point outburst against the Blazers, and hasn’t really slowed down since. Part of his stellar play has been his absolutely out of his mind 3-point shooting. Barnes is hitting shots from deep at 52% this season, so he’s bound to regress at some point. Maybe some combination of Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith defense will do the trick. Otherwise the Mavericks will be haunted by parting with Barnes yet again.
Will the Mavericks start hitting open shots?
So far this season, Dallas looks like a bunch of zombies hoisting up 3-pointers. The Mavericks are shooting 31% from behind the arc this season. Finney-Smith has been especially bad, going 5-26 on three’s so far. Porzingis is at 23%. Luka Doncic is at 25%. The only players shooting well are Maxi Kleber (45%), Tim Hardaway Jr. (39%), and Jalen Brunson (40%). There’s some positive regression due, especially for Finney-Smith and Porzingis, but it needs to start happening soon.
Good Luka needs to show up.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the Mavericks struggles so far is Luka’s uninspiring play. He looks like a ghost of the player we last saw eviscerating the Los Angeles Clippers in the postseason. He’s averaging almost 23 points per game, which is fine, and his seven assists per game is good enough. But as mentioned above, his 3-point shooting is abysmal, and he yet again looks like he’s playing himself into shape to start the season. The clearest evidence of this is his shockingly low free throw attempts. Doncic is averaging only four trips to the line per game this season. His career average is seven. If the Mavericks are going to get things turned around on offense, Doncic is going to have to be more aggressive.
How to Watch
Tip off is at 2:30 p.m., so you can watch the game, then take your kids trick-or-treating, or hit your friend’s Halloween party, or maybe TP your cranky neighbor’s house. You can watch on Bally Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass, or listen to the game on 97.1 the Eagle.