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3 things as the Dallas Mavericks face the Washington Wizards

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Two duos look to best each other.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Washington Wizards Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks are now 26-21 after a 99-86 win against the Knicks last night. It’s the second night of a back-to-back and after both Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis played in The Mecca, it’s not certain which Mavericks team we’ll see in this one. Luckily, they’re facing a Wizards team that hasn’t been all that impressive this season.

Washington is one of seven teams in the NBA with a winning percentage lower than 40. Things haven’t been trending in the right direction, either. The Wizards have dropped 10 of their last 13 contests. Since the All-Star Break, the Wizards have the third-worst offensive efficiency in the league despite playing at a way quicker pace than anyone else. Washington is forced to play a track meet every night, as their defense can’t seem to stop anything. The Wizards’ 113.4 defensive rating this season is the fifth-worst in the league. This will be an area the Mavericks — regardless of whoever is on the floor — will look to exploit. Here are a few other things they’ll need to consider to secure a win and continue on their East Coast road trip.

A two-headed ticking time bomb

Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook have been an interesting pair to watch play together throughout this season. The Wizards are one of only four teams that have players averaging more than three turnovers a game. They are also one of five teams in the league that have two players on the roster taking 18 or more shots a game. Among players across the league that are taking at least 18 shots a game, Westbrook is second-to-last in field goal percentage.

It hasn’t gotten better for Westbrook, as he’s shooting 41.7 percent and turning the ball over six times a game (leads league) over his last 10 games. Beal has come back down to earth after playing red-hot to start the season. Over his last seven games, he’s scoring 27.3 points per game on 52.8/40/91.7 shooting splits. These two guys have been victims of variance and inefficiency most of this season, but they still are a dangerous threat when clicking.

Can KP keep it going?

Disregarding his rather lackluster offensive performance in Manhattan, Kristaps Porzingis has been playing really good basketball as of late. He’s scoring the ball well despite not have a great shooting stretch from deep. We’ve also seen some flashes of him exploding off the floor, looking like his pre-injury self.

Really where I’ve been the most impressed however is how he looks on defense. Porzingis was getting double deep-fried on that end of the floor at the beginning of the season. He was ranked as one of, if not the worst defender in the league in multiple metrics. Now, he’s added some fluidity back and is protecting the rim well. He’ll have a test tonight against bruisers like Robin Lopez and Alex Len, but it could be a good night to make a statement.

Have the better third option

The Wizards have been relying on guys like Rui Hacimura as their third option for a majority of this season. Now Hacimura is a decent player, but I’ll take the Mavericks depth any day of the week here. Josh Richardson is inconsistent but has been a pretty pivotal part of the Mavericks’ success at times. Jalen Brunson should never try to pass the ball ever but his ability to get to the rim has been impressive this season. Tim Hardaway Jr. might be the most under-appreciated player on the roster this season.

This is going to be a track meet, with Westbrook and Beal trying their hardest to get a win. But as long as the Mavericks find some reliable scoring outside of Doncic and Porzingis (assuming they play), they should be fine.

How to watch

This game is tipping-off at 6 p.m. CST and will be televised on Fox Bally Sports Southwest and NBA League Pass.