Winners of nine of their last 11 games, the Dallas Mavericks return to action against the San Antonio Spurs with a chance to move up in the standings immediately after the break. The Spurs sit one game above the Mavericks at seventh place in the Western Conference, but the Mavericks are playing quality basketball midway through the season.
The last time these clubs played, the Mavericks took a 122-117 victory as Luka Doncic collected 36 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists. Dallas, without several key players because of COVID protocols, needed every bit of Doncic’s superhuman efforts.
Here’s what to watch for when the two teams tip Wednesday:
Doncic has never had a problem scoring the basketball, but lately, he’s shooting the ball at an efficient clip. In his last 10 games, Doncic has connected on 52 percent of his field-goal attempts and 47 percent of his triples. Ignore his 69 percent success rate at the free-throw line so I can keep going on my narrative. Prior to this 10 game stretch, Donic cashed in 46 percent of his total attempts, including 30 percent from behind the arc. Strangely, he shot nearly 79 percent from the line. If Doncic can continue to shoot the ball well, he would make an even stronger case for MVP despite the slow start to the season.
Can Jalen Brunson keep pace?
With a team full of streaky performers, Brunson’s offensive consistency has been a revelation for the Mavericks through the first half of the season. Posting career-high numbers across the board, including a steamy 40 percent from deep, Brunson has been the most reliable Mavericks not named Luka. The third-year pro went into the break on a torrid pace, and the Mavericks will need him to stay the course starting Wednesday against the Spurs.
Defending DeMar DeRozan
In four games against the Mavericks last season, DeRozan waltzed to a 24-point, seven-rebound and seven-assist line, having his way with whichever defender the Mavericks threw at him. Dallas’s objective in the offseason was to stockpile wing defenders, and so far (regardless of if they did that or not), Dorian Finney-Smith is deployed as the team’s primary defender. In the first game against Dallas, DeRozan scored 29 points while getting to the line 16 times. Only time will tell if Josh Richardson is used more as the primary defender, but DeRozan will be a good litmus test as to the direction Dallas goes out of the break.
How to watch
The game tips at 7:30 CT and can be watched on NBATV.