The Dallas Mavericks (11-14), host the Atlanta hawks (11-12) in their fourth of seven straight at American Airlines Center. Dallas is coming off of a clutch win that shouldn’t have been a clutch win against Minnesota on Monday. The Mavericks now own a two-game winning streak and are looking for their second three game winning streak of the season.
Kristaps Porzingis played his best game of the year against the Timberwolves, putting up 27 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks on 10-for-19 shooting. He got off to a hot start, making his first four shots, and was aggressive early with plays like these:
Step out and leave the middle open for Porzingis and he'll drive to the rim. A good sign. pic.twitter.com/P4jvSrlCnk— Nick Angstadt (@NickVanExit) February 9, 2021
Kristaps Porzingis dribble crossover pullup midrange jumper— Nick Angstadt (@NickVanExit) February 9, 2021
Who is this confident player? pic.twitter.com/Py4KcYrwTA
The Hawks have not played since Feb. 6, and with key rotation pieces out, this could bode well for them having to play their starters more.
Here are three things to watch for Wednesday night:
The Mavericks and Hawks both rank outside the top ten in defensive rating (Hawks 13th, Mavericks 26th, per NBA.com), and both Dallas and Atlanta have given up 110-plus points in four and three consecutive games, respectively. When they met a week ago, the final score was 122-116 in Dallas’ favor. The Mavericks have been dynamite on the offensive end in the first half of their last three games, scoring 70-plus in each of them. When you also take into consideration that each team possesses an explosive young talent that is liable to go off for 40 points on any given night, it is clear that we may be in for an old fashioned barn burner.
Luka Doncic recorded 27 points and 14 assists in the teams’ last meeting. The Mavericks held Trae Young at bay, scoring a below-average 21 points, which was mostly inflated by the last couple minutes. John Collins was the main antagonist on Feb. 3, when he torched Dallas for 35 points. Kristaps Porzingis put up 24 points in that game as well, and assuming Atlanta makes adjustments to Dallas’ trap defense on Young, we could see all four of these players score 25 or more Wednesday night.
A big night from the bench mob
If it seems like Dallas’ bench has been better lately, it’s because they have.
Since Feb. 3, they are tied for fifth in the league in bench scoring, at 40.5 points a game. This has a lot to do with Tim Hardaway Jr., who is averaging 19.3 points off the bench this season. Hardaway certainly does the heavy lifting in terms of scoring for the second unit, but Jalen Brunson and Dwight Powell have been great recently as well.
The Hawks are missing four key rotation players, meaning the only guy on their bench who averages over five points a game is Danilo Gallinari. This is great news for Dallas because it means that the Hawks will either have to play their starters more, or play guys that don’t usually get many minutes. If it is the latter, Dallas’ improved second unit should be able to take advantage and there could be a big burst of energy in the mid-late first quarter.
Between Hardaway’s hot shooting, Brunson’s game control and efficient play, and Powell’s recent reversion to pre-injury Dwight, the Maverick starters will certainly have reinforcements against a depleted Hawks team.
Everyone loves streaks, and you can expect a plethora of them to continue Wednesday night.
First and foremost, Luka Doncic has a streak of 11 straight games with 25 or more points. After scoring 27 a week ago against Atlanta, there is no reason to suspect his streak will end this time around. He is two games shy of the Mavericks record held by Mark Aguirre and Dirk Nowitzki, which stands at 13 consecutive games. To break Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 80 in a row, the Mavericks would need an extra 23 games tacked on to the season, assuming Luka plays in every single one.
Another impressive streak that is likely to continue is Clint Capela’s 19 consecutive games with 10 or more rebounds. He can grab 20 rebounds and score 20 points on any given night, and with the Mavericks’ known rebounding issues, Capela recording his 20th consecutive game with double digit boards is almost inevitable.
These next two streaks are a little more unconventional:
- The first is the number of games in a row with fans at the American Airlines Center. This will increase to two when the game tips off. On Monday, Dallas let vaccinated front-line workers be the first fans at a Mavericks home game since March of 2020 and this will be the case again on Wednesday.
- The second is the number of consecutive home games where the Mavericks do not play the national anthem before tipoff. This streak will increase to 12 in a row, per The Athletic. Mark Cuban confirmed on Tuesday that they have not been playing it before games this year, and don’t have any plans to in the future.
The final streak is the one that brings the most hope: The Mavericks can increase their win streak to three for only the second time this year.
It has been an up and down season with lots of obstacles, but the Mavericks finally have everyone healthy and are playing at an improved level offensively. The Hawks are shorthanded and have lost three out of four. Dallas has already beaten Atlanta this year, and with fans now in the arena, Dallas should have the energy they need to sweep the season series with the Hawks.
How to watch:
The game tips off at 6:30 p.m. CT. and can be watched on Fox Sports Southwest if you’re in Dallas, or via the national broadcast on ESPN if you are outside the Mavericks broadcast region.
I'm told that tomorrow's Mavs-Hawks ESPN broadcast will be blacked out in DFW. That's because the game also is airing on @FOXSportsSW. I know that's no help for those of you who still can't get FSSW, but I'm just the messenger. Hope this helps your planning.— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) February 9, 2021