Eight days ago, the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder faced off in what could be considered a basketball-like substance, with Dallas eventually pulling away with a 87-79 win to roll into the All-Star break. The Thunder, meanwhile, beat the Spurs the next night.
Following the Wednesday night drubbing of the Spurs, the Mavericks are on the road Thursday night to play their 18th away contest this season.
Here’s three things to think about prior to the contest:
Will any Maverick player sit?
This is going to be a recurring question, but it has to be asked already. The Mavericks play 38 games in 68 days including 10 back-to-backs. Despite playing a whopping 39 minutes against the Spurs on Wednesday night, it seems unlikely that Luka Doncic would sit.
The Mavericks have not committed to a consistent strategy with Kristaps Porzingis in terms of rest, but following the All-Star break there’s no reason to assume he’ll be out against the Thunder. As he’s a player with an intense desire to be on the court, he’ll likely want to build off his 28 point, 14 rebound performance last night. I’ll guess that he plays.
Josh Richardson should guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
To the more casual observer, this will seem like an insane statement: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a top five player from the 2018 NBA draft. The third year guard’s been excellent this season, to the tune of 23 points, five rebounds, and six assists a game.
The Mavericks shut down Gilgeous-Alexander in the contest earlier this month, in no small part because Josh Richardson finally got a consistent crack guarding a lead play maker for an opposing squad. In hopes of taking control of this game early, perhaps the Mavericks will elect to start Richardson on SGA this contest.
A five-game win streak would be awesome
The Dallas Mavericks are just 1-3 on the second night of back-to-backs this year. That lone victory came against Houston in early January, the night after the Chicago Bulls beat the Luka-less Mavericks in Chicago.
Dallas has a lot of these back-to-backs: of their 38 games to finish the 2020-21 season, 10 contests will be the second night of a back-to-back. So they need to find a means of gutting through these games where they’re tired and notch at least the occasional victory if they’re serious about making the playoffs.
How to watch
Dallas will be on at 8:00 p.m CST on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League pass.