The first matchup was an offensive fireworks show as the Mavericks won 143-130 behind Luka Doncic’s 46 points, eight rebounds, and 12 assists and Kristaps Porzingis 36 points (8-13 from three). Porzingis kicked off the festivities cashing in four triples in the first five minutes setting the tone for the Mavericks to make 25 total threes.
With both teams playing Friday night, expectations for a similar offensive display should be tempered. Here’s what to watch for Saturday night:
Battle beyond the arc
After a poor shooting performance Friday night, the Mavericks are in a prime bounce-back spot to find their groove from deep against the Pelicans. Currently, New Orleans allows 15.4 three-point makes per game to opponents, good for dead last in the NBA. Their opponents’ 39.1 percent success rate is the second-highest in the league. Simply put, the Pelicans struggle mightily to guard the three-point line.
A good chunk of Mavericks’ attempts come from beyond the arc even though the team shoots a pedestrian 36 percent from deep. Dallas will have clean looks from deep, they’ll just need to do what they couldn’t do Friday.
Battle down low
While the Pelicans struggle to guard away from the basket, they excel at doing the dirty work near the basket. The team scores 53.6 points in the paint, they lead the league with 15.5 second-chance points and lead the league grabbing 53.3 percent of their available rebounds. While it’s not surprising Steven Adams leads the Pelicans in rebounding per game, it’s intriguing that Williamson is third on the team (7.0) behind Josh Hart (7.6). As of this writing, it’s unclear if Porzingis will play on the second night of a back-to-back, but if he’s out it will require a total team effort to keep the Pelicans from dominating the paint.
Will Josh Richardson or Tim Hardaway Jr. fill the void?
With Porzingis likely out, the Mavericks will obviously need someone to step up alongside Luka Doncic. Given the Pelican’s ineptitude to guard the three-point line, it stands to reason Hardaway could flourish.
It seems safe to assume Williamson will get his, and Brandon Ingram is likely to have a solid game as he scored 30 against the Mavericks last time out. Doncic will need someone to ease the scoring burden for the Mavericks to keep up.
How to watch
The game tips at 8:00 CT and can be watched on Fox Sports Southwest.