The Dallas Mavericks (6-3) will visit Amway Center tonight at 4:30 PM CST to face the Orlando Magic (2-9) for the second time in 10 days. Why so early? Well, a hurricane is close by. Dallas handled Orlando the last time these two teams faced off, defeating the Magic by a score of 114-105. Orlando will be looking for comeuppance, while the Mavericks hope to secure a victory on the front end of a back-to-back.
Fans will be treated to a rematch between a white-hot Luka Doncic and ROY favorite Paolo Banchero (assuming he plays through a left ankle injury that has him listed as questionable). The Magic roster is filled with young talent, and Dallas will need to ignore their record and take them seriously to win their fifth straight game.
This is very much a “take care of business game” for Dallas, and here are some things to watch for as they look to do just that.
Will the JaVale McGee charade continue?
You could almost hear the collective groan from the MFFL community when Jason Kidd announced Monday night that JaVale McGee would return to the starting lineup, citing “matchups” as his reasoning. Coming off the heels of a successful start from Dwight Powell against Toronto, it didn’t seem to make much sense to revert to the wildly ineffective McGee-centered lineup against a non-traditional starting big in Nic Claxton. This became evident instantly, as McGee was pulled 3:25 into the game after throwing an idiotic pass out of bounds and earning visible derision from Luka Doncic. McGee only played 9 minutes against the Magic last week and was a -12 in that time. Put simply, he cannot see the floor at this juncture. If the Mavericks want to avoid getting off to a slow start, they will start Dwight Powell.
The Magic have a PG this time
Last time they faced Dallas, Orlando was decimated by injuries at the point guard position and was forced to ask Franz Wagner, Terrence Ross, and RJ Hampton to moonlight in that role. It was obvious that the Magic were missing a floor general down the stretch, as they struggled to generate good looks in crunch time, helping the Mavericks pull away late. While Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony remain out, Orlando will have Jalen Suggs in the lineup this time around. The second-year guard is having a solid start to the season, averaging 12.7 points and 5.0 assists on 45% shooting from the field. He’s a part of the huge collection of young lottery picks on the Magic roster, and Dallas will need to game plan for what he brings to the table.
Who will step up for the shorthanded Mavericks?
With Christian Wood out with a knee injury and Tim Hardaway Jr questionable with a hip strain, the Mavericks bench suddenly finds itself in an extremely thin position. Josh Green will need to continue to build on the best performance of his career and give the Mavericks production. Maxi Kleber will need to take some shots. The question is: who else will Jason Kidd call on to fill the vacated minutes of the Mavericks’ two best bench scorers? Will Frank Ntilikina make his season debut and do something? Does Jaden Hardy get the call up and get thrust into a rotational role? Will we be forced to suffer through *gulp* Facundo Campazzo minutes? It will be interesting to see how they address this issue. Hopefully, Wood and Hardaway are not out for an extended stretch, because the Mavericks need their production off the bench and do not have easy ways to replace it.
How to watch
The Mavericks and Magic will tip off just after 4:30 PM CST on Bally Sports Southwest.