The Dallas Mavericks (23-21) head back to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder (19-26) and preferably avenge the embarrassing beat down the Thunder gave Dallas back on March 11th.
Dallas has stumbled twice in a row, first against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night where Luka Doncic sat due to a sore back, then on Saturday night to a full strength Pelicans team where both Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis missed the game. Doncic’s injury report changed last minute to illness whereas Porzingis was judged to need time to rest after Friday’s loss.
The Thunder have seemingly waived the white flag on the season, but are having trouble outright tanking with their team populated by so many hard playing guys. Al Horford is out for the rest of the season after coming to an agreement with the team, whatever in the world that means.
Perhaps both Mavericks starts will grace us with their pretense and we can get started on a win streak and hopefully build some actual momentum.
Here’s some stuff to think about before and during the game.
Which Josh Richardson will show up?
The Mavericks have not won a single game this season when Richardson scores less than 10 points. Our man is just 5-of-25 from the floor the past two games, at times looking like a ship without a sail that’s caught in a hurricane. Offensively, he’s just forgotten how to play basketball. He’s had sloppy ball handling with his high, loose dribble, all while taking shots which look even uglier than his normal form.
Defensively, Dallas always needs his effort, though I’ll never understand how Carlisle thinks his best use is on the other team’s third or fourth best player. But with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort out, there isn’t anyone in particular I’m concerned with the Mavericks needing to stop.
Watch the boards
Dallas lost the rebounding battle to Oklahoma City last game, 55-37. That is ... very bad. Saturday night, a guy named Moses Brown grabbed 23 for the Thunder all by himself. Though the Thunder will be without their spark-plug in Dort, the Mavericks need to fight Oklahoma City hard for rebounds. It’s the main area this season where even the most casual among us can see that the Mavericks often lack effort on rebounding to go along with poor technique (no one boxes out).
Minutes for the end of the bench
The ideal situation is the Mavericks play both Doncic and Porzingis, the team doesn’t play with their food and Dallas runs away with the score. Given how many guys are hurt or out for the Thunder, that’s exactly what should happen.
Then what needs to happen is Rick Carlisle needs to give the end of the bench some minutes. This has gotten beyond stupid and it’s high time those of us covering the team just call it that. Resting Doncic and Porzingis makes sense if you take a long-term approach. Grinding Dorian Finney-Smith and playing him 38 minutes, while giving Boban Marjanovic 30 minutes makes no sense when Josh Green and Tyler Bey also exist.
This will hopefully be a game where we see these guys get some experience against a G-League+ team and not just for 90 seconds. I get that they might not be good (in fact, I’m pretty certain Green is years away from contributing) but it’s impossible to know that if the Mavericks can’t practice AND Carlisle won’t play them. Crush the Thunder early, pack it up for the game, and let the youngins get some run.
How to watch
This one will be on at 7:00 p.m. CST and should be on Fox Sports Southwest. Go Mavs.