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3 things to watch for when the Mavericks face off against the Pacers

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NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (23-19) return to action against the Indiana Pacers (20-23) after an eventful trade deadline saw the Mavericks net JJ Redick and Nicolo Melli in exchange for James Johnson, Wesley Iwundu, and a second-round pick.

The Mavericks took the first matchup between these two teams as Kristaps Porzingis led the way with 27 points and 13 rebounds in a 124-112 victory. However, both clubs were without key contributors. The Mavericks were in the midst of the COVID fiasco, and the Pacers were missing elite shot-blocker Myles Turner and Jeremy Lamb.

The two teams are playing different basketball in the past 15 games. The Mavericks are 10-5 sporting a top-four offensive rating and a top-8 defensive rating while the Pacers are 6-9 and in the bottom half of both metrics.

Here are a few things to watch for Friday night:

Attack the glass

Coming off a +15 rebound advantage against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday, the Mavericks have another prime opportunity to own the boards against the Pacers who rank second to last in the NBA grabbing 41.7 rebounds per game. Indiana has struggled to keep opponents off the offensive glass and has allowed more than 14 second-chance points per game. While Dallas doesn’t score off offensive rebounds regularly, this is a weakness the Mavericks can exploit. Per ESPN, the Pacers are 8-21 when outrebounded by opponents.

Points in the paint

Tonight’s matchup features one team that makes a living scoring at the rim and another team that limits opponents from scoring easy buckets in the paint. The Pacers average 53.2 paint points per game (fifth-most in the NBA) while the Mavericks allow just 44.2 paint points per game (fifth-most in the NBA). Led by Domantas Sabonis, who shoots just shy of half of his attempts from 0-3 feet from the basket, the Pacers flourish when scoring at the rim as 47 percent of the team’s entire points come in the paint. As Porzingis rounds in to form, the Mavericks defense has followed suit. Protecting the paint will be a key factor in the Mavericks chances of winning.

Will Luka Doncic bounce back?

In the five games prior to the Mavericks’ tilt against the Timberwolves, Doncic went supernova averaging 32.6 points, dishing 10 assists, and grabbing 7.4 rebounds while shooting a scorching 53 percent from the field and 46 percent from three. However, Doncic was rather pedestrian Wednesday scoring only 15 points while shooting below 40 percent. The 15 points were the lowest scoring output since his 13 points against the Pacers in January. The Mavericks are playing well, so they might not need a 30-point triple-double from Doncic, but my money says the Mavericks’ superstar bounces back with a vengeance.

How to watch

The game tips at 7:30 CT and can be watched on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass.