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3 things as the Mavericks keep the train on the tracks against the Pelicans

No amount of roster shuffling seems to be able to keep these new-look Mavericks down

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas fans got their first look at the post-trade Mavericks in a fantastic road win against the East-leading heat. Hard to ask for a better introduction than that. Now, they’ll roll into New Orleans to face a team with markedly lower postseason expectations in the Pelicans.

There are several storylines one might choose to define this season by so far. Certainly, the suddenly dominant defense is one. Luka’s post-media-vote snub MVP-level stretch is another. But perhaps the least exciting but most fruitful is a consistency that’s seemingly been lacking in recent years. Dallas has a 19-8 record against teams under .500. Nothing is guaranteed in this league, but for a team with deep playoff ambitions, those are the games a team “should” win. And Dallas is! A far cry from the early Luka years where it felt like wins and losses came seemingly at random. Now, though, with a new defensive identity that shows up from game to game, Dallas is looking at another very winnable matchup against a team more concerned with Zion updates and ping pong balls than winning games in the present.

Post Trade Showdown

Dallas and New Orleans were two teams who played big roles in the NBA’s action-packed trade deadline. New Orleans came away with CJ McCollum who has wasted no time in stepping into a leading-scorer type of role in New Orleans, averaging 26 points in his four games as a Pelican.

Dallas, on the other hand, has only gotten a one-game sample size, as promising as it was, out of their new acquisitions, Davis Bertans and Spencer Dinwiddie. It will be interesting to see which team looks more incorporated at this point. McCollum has had more time to work into his new team, but he’s also undoubtedly being asked to do much more than either Bertans or Dinwiddie will be in Dallas.

Open from deep

Against Miami, Dallas was facing a team who, over the last 10 games, was allowing the fourth most three-pointers in the league per game. A decent strategy, as opponents had only been making them 32% of the time. Dallas’ jump shots have been fickle this season, but against the Heat’s defensive scheme the Mavs’ not only took advantage of the shots offered, heaving 41 three-point attempts, but they also made them at a 44% clip, riding 18 made threes to a second-half comeback win.

Against New Orleans, they face a nearly identical situation. Over 10 games, New Orleans has allowed opponents the fifth-most three-point shots, nearly identical to Miami. No one in the league generates good looks like Luka Doncic does, so if the supporting pieces like Maxi, Dorian, and, yes, Davis Bertans are looking good from three again, it could be a simple enough recipe for a dub.

Open starting spot

After it seemed a starting five of Brunson, Doncic, Bullock, Finney-Smith, and Powell had gotten a solid footing, Reggie Bullock was a late scratch for the Miami game. That opening paved the way for Josh Green to make his first start of the season. And he played well! (A much-needed salve for the constantly tormented inhabitants of Josh Green Island.)

That said, it seems unlikely that Green would be the permanent spot starter if Bullock were to miss more time. Head Coach Jason Kidd could opt to ride Green for another game, utilizing his unceasing defensive energy on a guy like Brandon Ingram. Perhaps more likely, though, is we’ll see the Kleber/Powell tandem. Maxi drew the defensive matchup against Jimmy Butler for much of the Heat game and played him admirably. He could be called upon to play similarly against Ingram, especially if Powell is going to need help down low defending Jonas Valanciucas.

How to watch

You can watch the broadcast on Bally Sports at 7:00 CST.

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