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3 things to watch as the Mavericks face off against the Heat

Dallas needs to control their own seeding destiny

NBA: Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, look. It happens. So the Mavericks got swept by the Kings; so what? So did Denver! The Jazz got swept by Minnesota. What of it? If anything, it puts us the the company of a couple of contenders. You need the pain or else you’ll never know true joy.

Anyway, now Dallas faces off against a playoff-bound team from the East in Miami. This is a great opportunity to bounce back and work on fending off Portland and the Los Angeles Lakers. Kristaps Porzingis is still unavailable with knee soreness, which is a shame, but the hope at this point should be that he’s 100% come playoff time.

Two desperate teams

Both Dallas and Miami should be fairly confident with their chances of making the postseason at this point. The pressing issue for both teams now is managing to avoid the increasingly maligned play-in tournament.

Dallas is in a well documented three-team showdown with the Trailblazers and the Lakers for seeds 5 through 7. Meanwhile, Miami is hanging on to the sixth seed in the East by a razor thin one-game margin over the Celtics. No question, both teams would rather avoid the “honor” of christening the league’s newest shiny toy, but only one of them is going to do themselves any favors on Tuesday night. Dallas, for their part, have typically bounced back fairly well as of late, showing up in games following a loss. Miami, strangely, has a negative point differential on the season, but nonetheless has been playing well down the stretch and are 7-3 in their last ten.

Big wings, big trouble

Over an offseason that feels like one million years ago, Dallas truly did seem to make an effort to address their defensive issues at the wing. Alas, the team still struggles against the league’s better front courts (and, like, average front courts), and the tired legs that have come with a compressed schedule likely won’t be helpful when the task at hand is staying in front of psychotic human whirlwind Jimmy Butler.

Now, I’m not talking directly to Josh Richardson, but I’m not NOT talking directly to Josh Richardson when I say: if you’re not going to contribute on offense, at least be a pest on defense. Dallas catches somewhat of a break with Miami missing Victor Oladipo, robbing them of a solid one-two punch, but the Heat made it through the bubble last year in large part due to great team depth, so it’s going to be incumbent on Dallas’s defensive scheme to try and stop easy points at the rim.

Make or miss league

Much has been written by people much smarter than myself about how the modern NBA is so reliant on the three point shot. What’s also become true, though, is just how much random variance there is for teams when it comes to shooting beyond the arc.

The long and short of it is it often doesn’t matter how well you’re playing defense if a team is having a good shooting night. Luckily for Dallas, Miami has the fifth worst three-point shooting efficiency in the league this season at 35%. Dallas is marginally better at 35.9%. What’s wild is when Dallas is having an above average shooting night from three, shooting it over 36%, they have a record of 24-7.

What that means for Tuesday’s game against Miami is that, even if the defensive intensity just isn’t there, Dallas should still be able to right the ship if they’re looking right on offense. All four losses from Dallas’s last 10 games have come with three-point shooting performances below 36%.

How to watch

The game starts at 7:00pm on Bally Sports Southwest