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3 things to think about before the Dallas Mavericks play the Oklahoma City Thunder on the evening of MLK Day

Game two of a five game homestand

Dallas Mavericks v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

The Mavericks host the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday evening, one of the night caps of a lengthy day of Martin Luther King day programming. Dallas needs a win to secure their fourth winning streak of at least three games during the 2021-22 campaign. The Oklahoma City Thunder have just one win in the 2022 calendar year. The current odds indicate the Thunder are likely to leave Dallas with just one win as well, with bettors placing the finally healthy Mavericks as heavy favorites.

Here’s some other things to consider prior to tip off

Containing Josh Giddey

The Mavericks allowed Josh Giddey to secure his first career triple-double when the team matched up a little over two weeks ago, with Giddey scoring 17 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and handing out 14 assists. He’s a large reason why the game was close despite the Mavericks being a clearly superior team.

With his back court running mate and star in the making Shai Gilgeous-Alexander playing (as of this writing there weren’t any notable players on the NBA injury report for either team, but “this writing” happens to be Sunday afternoon), it will be important for the Mavericks to keep a handle on him this game. Luka Doncic spent a fair amount of time on Giddey last game and was a bit of a saloon door.

Kristaps Porzingis and the long ball

I write about this often because it’s the last thing in his game that he’s yet to unlock this season. Matthew has a good story on Porzingis going up early Monday morning that gets into how solid he’s been.

He’s still shooting under 30% on the year from distance but there’ve been signs of life lately. Following his 0-5 stinker on Christmas, Porzingis has played in four contests and is shooting 10 of 20 from beyond the arc. As this is a game the Mavericks should win, I hope they get Porzingis 15-18 shots and at least five of those being threes.

The Dallas offense is still a bit grindy at times (Luka Doncic, dribbling) but a couple of threes per game from their star big man could loosen up defenses even more.

Luka Doncic and consistent focus

Criticizing Luka Doncic is often as fool’s errand. For one, his biggest fans let you know that it is in fact you who are the problem. The other issue is that he’s giving Dallas 25-9-9 so at a base level, being critical is a bit silly. Finally, he has the occasional tendency to channel the basketball gods directly and do what he did against the Grizzlies Friday night.

And yet, here I go again. The Mavericks go as Luka does in many respects, though the consistency of Jalen Brunson has helped alleviate some of the downward swings Dallas dealt with last season. When Doncic is struggling, everything else feels worse when watching the Mavericks. Against the Magic, Doncic did not play his best game and let a dolt like Mo Wagner get under his skin. While teammates certainly need to hit shots when he serves them up easy looks, Doncic must also score with better efficiency.

Like Porzingis, he needs his three ball in some fashion. Since returning from injury/COVID on January second, Doncic he’s hit just nine threes on 47 attempts, a crisp 19% from beyond the arc. Either taking fewer of those or driving to the rim more and dealing with the contact there could help quite a bit.

How to watch

Dallas plays at home, with tip off happening at 7:30. The game will be broadcast on Bally Sports Southwest.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.