The Dallas Mavericks (11-11) look to break out of their current slump against the Brooklyn Nets (16-7) Tuesday night at the AAC in Dallas. The Mavericks, losers of four of their last five games, will have a tough time against the Nets. Brooklyn is sitting atop the Eastern conference and has won seven of their last ten games.
Willie Cauley-Stein is listed as out for the game. Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. are questionable, and Kristaps Porzingis is listed as probable. For Brooklyn, Kyrie Irving and Joe Harris are out.
Here are three things to ponder during the game:
The Mavericks have to slow down either Kevin Durant or James Harden.
The Nets’ two superstars are averaging almost 49 points per game combined. The Mavericks can’t let both get going if they want to pull of the upset. Dallas really doesn’t have an answer for a player like Durant, but few teams do. At most you keep in from exploding for 40 or more points. But the Mavericks are ill-equipped to even do that, as their perimeter defense is pretty average at best.
Maxi Kleber might be able to bother Durant a bit, but not for long stretches. Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock don’t have a chance. The best bet might be to let Durant get his and keep Harden in check. Harden isn’t very athletic, just skilled. This might be a good matchup for Luka, if he can stay out of foul trouble. If not, Harden is someone the Mavericks wings and guards can stay in front of and keep below his scoring average. Finney-Smith has a good history guarding Harden, so maybe that can continue Tuesday night.
The Mavericks have to find ways to win without getting hot from behind the arc.
Dallas has shot 36% or less on 3-pointers in the four losses in the recent five game stretch. In their only win, against the New Orleans Pelicans, they shot almost 53% from deep. The only game they shot above league average and lost was when they fell to the Washington Wizards despite shooting 36% on 3-pointers. The rest of the losses featured abysmal shooting performances.
It’s likely they won’t shoot well against the Nets, either. So the Mavericks have to find a way to win besides shooting 3-pointers like a team full of Ray Allens. One thing they could do is get to the rim at a higher rate. They’re currently 30th in the league in shots at the rim. They’ve got to get more penetration and easier baskets at the rim. They can’t count on outlier shooting performances, especially against great teams like Brooklyn.
Protect the corners.
The Nets are seventh in the NBA in 3-point shooting from the corners. That’s a bad thing, because the Mavericks are giving up the second highest shooting percentage to opponents on corner 3’s. Even missing sharpshooter Harris, the Nets have plenty of shooters. Durant, Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills, and Deandre’ Bembry are all above league average shooters. Good shooters in the corners, one of the best shots in basketball, are a bad combination. The Mavericks have to make sure they protect those corner shots all game.
How to Watch
The game can be seen on TNT and it’s an early tip at 6:30 p.m. CST and NBA League Pass. No Bally Sports Southwest broadcast for this one. YouTube TV users, rejoice!