The Dallas Mavericks (8-5) will look to string together a few wins as they continue their homestand Wednesday night against the last place Houston Rockets (2-12). This will be the team’s third back-to-back of the season, and their first attempt at winning both contests after they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 103-101 Tuesday night. In the first back-to-back the Mavericks dropped game one (a historic lost lead against the Oklahoma City Thunder), and then dropped both in their recent East Coast road trip against the Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards.
Here is what we’ll watch for in tonight’s game.
Life without Luka
At the time of this writing there has been minor indication that Luka Doncic will sit out this game for rest. It would be a prime opportunity, after logging 35 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists in 40 minutes Tuesday. This would be time to test the waters of a game without Luka, as Jason Kidd looks for ways to find his young superstar some rest. Doncic looked all but absent in those games against the Magic and Wizards, and Spencer Dinwiddie did his best to pick-up the scoring load.
The question may not be so much scoring — Dinwiddie and Christian Wood are capable — but creating offense for the others that used to peppering the perimeter waiting for a Doncic kick-out. Last season the team was able to rely on Jalen Brunson’s scoring and creation in games where Luka was out. Now they’ll need Dinwiddie, who played 41 minutes Tuesday, to fill that gap. He’s proved a capable scorer this season.
All this is against what should be a light opponent, the Rockets are 29th in Defensive-rating this season. But they’ll be facing a young and athletic squad, who will have the rest advantage coming in.
The Mavericks have mostly maintained their reputation of taking care of the ball. And on a night where they might be feeling heavy legs that advantage will be more important. The Rockets are ninth in Pace this season, but also have the worst Turnover percentage in the league at 17.3 percent.
The Mavericks must leverage some veteran experience against the youngest team in the league and let their mistakes dictate the pace of the game. After a hard fought win last night, fending off a surging Clippers team in the second half, the Mavericks need to emphasize those advantages.
Dallas has the second highest Three-point Attempt rate in the league, and Houston is in the top ten. Neither team are connecting at a high mark, so the hotter team may prevail.
The Mavericks clutched the victory last night late largely due to quality ball movement that led to three pointers. As a team they shot 17-of-43, above their average on the season. The bright spot was Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock combining to hit 11-of-21, after struggling so far this season. It would be encouraging to see them carry that momentum over to Wednesday’s matchup.
How to watch
Tip-off is set for 7:30 CT and can be watched locally on Bally Sports Southwest and the Bally Sports app.