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3 things to watch as the Dallas Mavericks finish a short road trip against the Brooklyn Nets

An early return to the scene of a great moment from last season

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (1-2) visit the Brooklyn Nets (1-3) tonight with an early East coast tip-off time of 6:30 pm.

The Mavericks fell behind early against the Pelicans Tuesday and lost another close one, 113-111. Luka Doncic’s potential game-winner came up short and in post-game interviews both Doncic and head coach Jason Kidd seemed disappointed at the quality of the shot they were able to muster on the final possession.

In another early season scheduling respite, the Mavericks again face a team on the rough end of a back-to-back. The Nets lost to the Bucks on the road last night 110-99. Will fatigue be a factor for Brooklyn in the second half against Dallas?

Dallas frontcourt concerns

Newly acquired starting center JaVale McGee had a poor first quarter against the Pelicans. One layup after another by New Orleans led to a 40-point explosion in that opening period. It will be pivotal that McGee - and the Mavericks at large - do a better job guarding the paint against the Nets. Durant and Irving are not shy about driving into the lane if they sense a matador defense on the way to the rim.

Statement possessions where charges are taken - or at least attempted - are just as important as highlight reel blocks. Since McGee is only playing 12-18 minutes per game, foul trouble is far less of a concern than sending a message that the Mavericks paint is closed for business.

Nets young center off to a great start

Brooklyn Nets center Nic Claxton is entering his fourth year in the NBA and is showing early signs that he may be taking a leap forward. Posting an average of 16 points and 9 boards three the first three games, Claxton is now a fixture in the Nets starting lineup after starting his career as a deep bench player.

Second-round picks have to work so much harder to get opportunities and Claxton is no exception. It will be key for the Mavericks to put a body on the late second-round pick and keep Claxton off the offensive glass. Failing to do that could provide the Nets with the supplemental scoring they need to pair with their superstars in order to win.

The return of Winwiddie

My pick for the best regular season moment from last year’s amazing Mavericks campaign is etched in time.

It is clear when you listen to Dinwiddie talk about his time in Brooklyn that he felt at one point that he had a home there. The decision the Nets made to pass on resigning him after his ACL injury clearly stung. It was the perfect motivational fodder to bring the very best out of Spencer in the fourth quarter of a very memorable game.

In this season’s only regular season trip to Brooklyn, will we see another stellar performance from the Mavericks guard?

Where to watch

Tonight’s game can be viewed on NBA TV and Bally’s Southwest at 6:30 pm