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3 things to watch for as the Dallas Mavericks visit the Miami Heat

The Mavericks take on the best team in the East.

Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks (33-24) are set to take on the Miami Heat (37-20) at the American Airlines Arena in Miami on Tuesday night. The Mavericks are fresh off splitting two games against the Los Angeles Clippers last week. They’re in the homestretch before the all-star break, set to take on the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday. They’re off for a week after that.

They’ll face a tough test in the Heat. Miami has the best record in the Eastern Conference, and they’ve won five in a row. The Heat are 19-6 at home this season, while the Mavericks are 13-13 on the road.

Victor Oladipo (right knee) and Markieff Morris (reconditioning) are both listed as out for the Heat. Caleb Martin (achilles) is listed as day-to-day. For the Mavericks, Marques Chriss (right knee soreness), Tim Hardaway Jr. (left foot surgery), and Theo Pinson (right finger fracture) are all out. Trey Burke (left shoulder sprain) is questionable.

Here are three things to watch for during the game:

How will Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans fit in?

This will be the first game for the new players brought in from the Kristaps Porzingis trade. The Mavericks aren’t exactly on a hot streak (they’re 6-4 in their last ten games), but they’re playing pretty well right now. Will the insertion of Dinwiddie and Bertans into the lineup derail what chemistry they have right now?

Bertans will probably be an easy fit. He’s here to shoot, nothing else. If he goes 0-of-4 from deep in a game, that shouldn’t affect how the Mavericks play. After all, we’ve seen plenty of nights where the Mavericks’ role players missed every 3-pointer they’ve taken. But if Bertans’ shooting stroke returns, he’ll bolster a bench that has scored in single digits several times over the past few games.

Dinwiddie is another story. He’s not a shooter (31% from deep for his career) and needs the ball in his hands to put up points. Maybe there’s a space for that with the Mavericks’ bench unit. But if he gets minutes with the starters and goes 3-of-11 from the floor while taking shots away from Luka and Brunson, that could be a problem.

Closing out on the Heat’s 3-point shooters will be key

The Heat are the best 3-point shooting team in the NBA, hitting almost 38% of their shots from behind the arc. PJ Tucker and Max Strus both shoot over 40% from deep, while Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson both hit 3-pointers at over a 36% clip. Kyle Lowry is struggling a bit from deep, only hitting 34% of his 3-pointers.

The Mavericks should sag off Jimmy Butler, who’s only hitting 20% of his shots from downtown. They have to stay home on the rest of the Miami shooter and if needed, rotate off of Butler when the defense breaks down. If they leave one of the Heat shooters alone on the perimeter, they’ll be certain to make the Mavericks pay. In their previous matchup this season, the Heat hit 52% of their 3-pointers. That can’t happen again.

Slow down the Heat in transition

In their last matchup, the Heat outscored the Mavericks in fast break points 19-3. Dallas isn’t going to run up points in transition. They’re 24th in the NBA, after all, with only 10 fast break points per game. That’s not going to change. Instead, they have to get back in transition and limit the easy baskets for Miami. The good news is the Mavericks’ defense has improved significantly since that November matchup with the Heat. They talk more on defense, have crisp rotations, and matchup better in transition now. Taking the previous point into consideration, the Mavericks can’t let the Heat bomb 3-pointers AND give up easy baskets. It’s how they ended up losing to the Heat the first time.

How to Watch

The game tips off at 6:30 p.m. CST on Bally Sports Southwest and NBA League Pass.