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3 things to watch for as the Mavs take on Ja Morant and the Grizzlies

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The Dallas Mavs are on track to play their first game in over a week. Here are three things to watch for.

Memphis Grizzlies v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The weather crisis in Texas resulted in a number of sporting events being postponed. For that reason, the Dallas Mavericks haven’t played a real game in over a week. This begs the question, how will they look when they return to the court?

The last time the Mavs took the court, they dropped a heartbreaker to Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers. Luka Donic had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds but his 3-point shot was off. It sucks, but it happens.

Now, the Mavs are two games below .500 and are desperate to pick things up. Here are three things to watch for in tonight’s game.

Can Luka Doncic stay hot?

Basketball is a simple game. When one of the best players in the world is feeling it, his team has a pretty good chance of winning the game.

In February, Luka Doncic is scorching. He’s averaging 33.1 points per game on .488/.431/.857 shooting splits to go along with 9.4 assists and 7.4 rebounds. He’s on a different planet.

If the month of February has been a sign of what’s to come for Luka in terms of shooting efficiency, that’s a bad sign for the rest of the league. His Achilles’ heel has always been his shooting from deep, so if he’s knocking those shots down, he’s impossible to guard. If he’s impossible to guard, the Mavs are tough to beat.

Can Kristaps Porzingis match his defense to his offense?

If Kristaps Porzingis is active in his Twitter mentions, then he’s had all week to do nothing but read about how bad he’s been at defense, and hopefully, practice some defense.

There are no words to describe how bad Porzingis has been on the defensive side of the ball this season. He seems unaware off the ball. He gets lost in simple screen actions. He can’t stay in front of guys that are determined to get to the rim. And worst of all, he isn’t that same force around the rim on defense that he used to be.

The Mavs currently have a 114.6 defensive rating, good for 27th in the league. If there were 100 teams in the NBA, that wouldn’t be too bad. But since there are 30, that’s... bad.

Porzingis has actually been pretty solid on offense this month, but unless he can have a positive impact on defense, he won’t be the second guy the Mavericks need him to be.

Mavs fans have to watch the one that got away

Prior to the 2020 NBA Draft, there was a lot of buzz from Mavs fans around Desmond Bane. The four-year TCU star was someone a large chunk of Mavs fans were begging the front office to draft with the 18th pick. Instead, they drafted Josh Green, who was recently assigned to the G League.

The worst-case scenario came true for Mavs fans: Bane has been outstanding. He’s filled a nice role for the Grizzlies, shooting a blistering 45.7 percent from 3-point land on 4.2 attempts per game. Now, the Mavs will have to square off against Bane for the first time.

Hopefully, the Mavs can stay disciplined on defense, close-out effectively on three-point shooters, and limit Bane’s impact on the game. But that feels more like a pipe dream than a realistic expectation.

How to watch the game

The game is scheduled to tip-off at 7:30 pm CT and can be watched on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass.