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3 things as the Mavericks look to take down the short-handed Pistons

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It’s not a must win; it’s a how could they possibly lose?

Detroit Pistons v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks had a great time whipping the tar out of a Golden State team on their own court on Tuesday night. It was a cleansing win — both in that it was a start-to-finish blowout, but also because it washed away lingering intrusive thoughts stemming from a confounding loss to the Kings.

Now, Dallas looks to wrap up a three-game road trip with a visit to Detroit to play a Pistons team that has seen better days. The Kings are a bad Western Conference team. The Pistons are one of the worst teams in basketball at the moment. Dallas needs to shake off whatever malaise that has them playing down to bad teams and keep the kind of energy they had against the Warriors. Losing to the Pistons would not only not bode well for the Mavericks' chances of holding onto the 6th seed (Portland is just a game behind them), but there’s a non-zero chance it might cause MFFL Twitter to actually burn down the AAC.

Call an ambulance… but not for me!

Dallas is no stranger to injury this season. Against Detroit, it looks as though they may still be without Kristaps Porzingis and Josh Richardson, but they at least have been upgraded from “doubtful” to “questionable.” Not an ideal situation to be missing two starters, but manageable.

The Piston injury report, on the other hand, is actually a humanitarian crisis.

Somebody get this team a Sarah McLaughlan song and a PSA, my god. Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, and Corey Joseph are all listed as out for the face-off against Dallas. That’s three players that were in the starting lineup when these teams faced earlier this season. The only starters they have available are rookie Saddiq Bey and Josh Jackson. Extremely large “oof”.

Rookie Watch

Against Golden State, Josh Green got just 10 minutes of playing time. Since January, he’s only managed to get double-digit minutes three times. It’s largely a right of passage in Dallas for most non-generationally-talented rookies to ride the bench their first season — especially on a team fighting for playoff positioning.

It would be nice if he (or Tyler Bey and Nate Hinton) could see some extended rotation minutes. That is, not just garbage fourth-quarter minutes with Boban where there’s no real offense being run and it’s essentially just kids playing pickup at the park.

So far this season, none of the rooks have shown much that would be worth calling for more minutes, but if nothing else, putting some miles on their young legs as opposed to the starters is as good a contribution as you can hope for.

Rust cleaner

Over the last 10 games, Detroit has had the fifth-worst 3-point defense in the league. It'd be nice if players like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Josh Richardson (if he’s available) could shake some of the rust off their shots against a bad defense.

Hardaway did show signs of the knockdown shooter he’s been much of this season in the game against the Warriors, so one more good showing could put him in a good headspace for the final push of regular-season games.

This team has had a weird season, marred by health and safety protocols as well as compacted scheduling, so getting everyone to peak at the right time for the post season is arguably as important as whatever seed they ended up landing in. What good is holding on to the sixth seed if everyone’s shot is in the dumpster? We’ve seen that this team can beat anyone when they’re clicking, so a good team win against Detroit could be a good momentum builder.

How to watch

The game starts at 6:00 p.m. CST on Bally Sports Southwest.