The Dallas Mavericks look to extend their three-game winning against the Sacramento Kings Monday night.
Dallas, fresh off a home-and-home sweep against the Los Angeles Lakers, will look to simultaneously add cushion to their sixth-place standing while continue to chip away at the Lakers fifth-place seeding. Unfortunately, the Mavericks could be without almost the entire starting lineup:
Luka Doncic is questionable with a left elbow contusion for tomorrow's game against the Kings.— The Kobe Beef (@TheKobeBeef) April 25, 2021
Kristaps Porzingis (left ankle sprain), Josh Richardson (right hamstring tightness), and Maxi Kleber (low back contusion) are also questionable, per the Mavs' updated game notes.
The Kings took it to the Mavericks last time these teams played (more on that later) scoring 45 points in the second quarter which resulted in a 121-107 Sacramento victory. Dallas will be looking to correct some egregious defensive mistakes this time around.
Here are a few things to watch for Monday night:
Will Tim Hardaway Jr. show up?
With Luka Doncic questionable, the Mavericks could be without their two most potent offensive weapons (with Kristaps Porzingis also doubtful to play), so much of the scoring load will be on Hardaway’s shoulders. If the last 10 games are any indication, he might not be up for the challenge. Hardaway is averaging 11 points, shooting 34 percent from the field and 29 percent from deep. Mind you, Hardaway can combust in an instant, but the Mavericks’ wing simply hasn’t been playing effective basketball as of late. However, Hardaway should have every opportunity to shoot himself out of a funk against the Kings.
Can a depleted Mavericks team take advantage of a bad Sacramento defense?
The Kings sport one of the NBA’s worst defenses, so the Mavericks should theoretically have no issue executing their offense. Sacramento’s 117.9 defensive rating is the worst in the league and they bleed 53.5 points per game in the paint, the worst mark in the NBA. With Doncic, Porzingis, Josh Richardson, and Maxi Kleber all questionable, the Mavericks could conceivably play without four members of the starting lineup.
Should those players miss the game, the keys will be handed to Jalen Brunson to run the show, while sharp shooting nights from Hardaway and JJ Redick coupled with another vintage Dwight Powell game could still put the Mavericks over the top against a terrible Kings’ defense.
Can the Mavericks’ defense contain a Kings’ offense missing the key cog?
Sacramento will be without De’Aaron Fox who will be sidelined 10-14 days due to health and safety protocols. Fox averaged 25 points and seven assists in every game for the Kings this season, so his absence is a tremendous blow for a team looking to claw into the play-in tournament. The last time these clubs played the Kings scorched the Mavericks shooting nearly 50 percent from the field including 46 percent from three. Sacramento also controlled the paint, scoring 56 points down low. Porzingis, who played 37 minutes, was stuck in mud for most of the night.
Against the Detroit Pistons, Rick Carlisle deployed a zone to hide the Mavericks lazy man defense, and it was effective in spurts. Whatever Carlisle decides to do, the Mavericks will need an all-hands-on-deck approach even with Fox on the sidelines.
How to watch
The game tips at 9pm and can be watched on NBA TV.