The Dallas Mavericks are riding high after Luka Doncic’s heroics versus the Boston Celtics. In addition to the thrilling shot by Luka, the team seemed to figure some things out with regard to their closing lineup. Gone were the poor defense and lack of spacing from Dwight Powell. Inserted was the extra playmaking, ball handling and shooting of Jalen Brunson. Hopefully the team continues that trend.
The Pelicans are without all everything wrecking ball Zion Williamson. They are also without their second best player in Brandon Ingram. This has led to a 1-9 record for the Pelicans and an abysmal -11.3 net rating. Here are the things to watch.
Can the Mavericks dominate for a whole game?
The Pelicans are absolutely terrible. The Mavericks led for essentially the whole game against the Celtics but they allowed them to creep back in and even take a short lived lead late in the 4th quarter. The Mavericks have not had a dominating wire to wire win all season and this should allow them to opportunity to do so.
Conversely, this is also the type of opponent that has led to Luka showing up and looking disinterested requiring the Mavericks to scrape and claw till the last minute. It is important for the team to handle business early and put the game away. There is more than one way to load manage. It is important to the team to keep many players minutes down and if they can trend closer to 25 minutes in games like this, it is less important to sit them entirely for future games.
Has Jason Kidd realized the Mavericks best lineups feature Porzingis as a lone big?
The Mavericks closing lineup should hopefully entail some odd combination of Josh Green, Moses Brown and company if the Mavericks take care of business. But the end of the game is not the only time a team can use its closing lineup.
If the Mavericks see copious amounts of these types of lineups while the game is still in doubt early that will be a very positive sign. It is important for these lineups to play together enough to gel into a well oiled closing machine and games like this are a good chance to work out the kinks with lower stakes.
Will the Mavericks make threes?
The Mavericks are 5th in the league in three point attempts despite being 25th in pace. Preseason concerns that Kidd would prevent the Mavericks from taking enough threes should be assuaged but now they need to start hitting.
The Mavericks are 27th in the league in three point percentage at 30.9 percent for the season. The normal starting lineup of Luka, Tim Hardaway Jr, Dorian Finney-Smith, Kristaps Porzingis and Dwight Powell are a combined 62/213 on threes so far. That is a whopping 29.1 percent. They have to be better.
How to Watch
The game tips off at 7:30 p.m. CST and can be seen on Bally Sports Southwest and NBA League Pass.