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3 things to watch for when the Mavericks clash with the Indiana Pacers

The Mavericks try to build momentum Friday night with an early tip against the Pacers.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (12-12), fresh off a rousing 104-96 road win against the Memphis Grizzlies, head north to face the Indiana Pacers (11-16). It has been tough sledding against Eastern Conference opponents, with the Mavericks going 2-6 early this season.

More than overcoming those troubles, the Mavericks are looking to build momentum for the first time in nearly a month. They haven’t won two games in a row since they did so November 12 and 15 against the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets.

Here is what we’ll be watching for in tonight’s early tip-off:

Coaching

Though it may barely be a ripple in the larger NBA landscape, many MFFL’s were surely circling this matchup, as this would be former Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle’s first time facing his former team. Now leading a Pacers team struggling on the floor and fighting off injuries, even if it wouldn’t be a contest of elite squads it would have been intriguing to see how Carlisle would have schemed against Doncic.

Reports surfaced Thursday that Carlisle tested positive for Covid-19 after taking a rapid test Wednesday. Results on a PCR test won’t be known until sometime Friday, so his availability is unknown at the time of this writing.

We first and foremost wish for good health and recovery for Carlisle. Then we’ll cross our fingers he’s able to make a return to the bench Friday.

Bullock Boost

Recent starter Reggie Bullock had his best game as a Maverick against the Grizzlies Wednesday night. Posting 15 points, two rebounds, four assists, and a steal and a block in 30 minutes, Bullock was his most confident since joining the team this season. Not only that he shot lights out, hitting 4-of-6 from three.

That display is what many imagined when the Mavericks signed him as a free agent in the offseason. While he hasn’t delivered consistently, one thing that’s certain is basketball is a game of rhythm. Maybe Wednesday was the breakout Bullock needed, and he can build off of that tonight.

Power in the post

Even if the Pacers are slumping as a whole, they have a handful of dynamic players on the roster. And they have strength in one area of concern for the Mavericks this season: the post.

The Pacers will throw out both Domantis Sabonis and Myles Turner to cause havoc both around the rim and on the perimeter. The Mavericks have had trouble this season with tandems like this, and will need to be particularly aware of the glass: the Pacers rank in the top ten in both Offensive and Defensive Rebound Percentage.

It is worth monitoring whether or not young center Moses Brown gets time again after a solid showing against the Grizzlies Wednesday.

How to Watch

Tip-off is set for 6 pm CT, and can be watched on BSSW.