The Dallas Mavericks (43-27) head down the eastern seaboard to play the Charlotte Hornets (35-35) Saturday night after falling to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Unless I’m simply incapable of reading a schedule, this will be the first time the Mavericks have had to play two nights in a row since late January, so even though the second night of a back to back is always hard, they at least haven’t had one in forever and they had a few days off earlier this week.
As of this moment (10:00 pm Friday evening) the Mavericks are 1.5 point underdogs according to DraftKings.
Styles make fights
Per NBA.com’s pace stats, the Mavericks are 30th in the league and the Hornets are third. This could very much be a wonky game depending on how extreme either team takes their strength. The Hornets are an attacking, athletic team that leads the league in scoring despite being 10th in the East. The Mavericks are a grinding team, wearing other teams down with defense and the inevitability of Luka Doncic.
Dallas should pummel the Hornets, at least on paper. But the games are played on the court and if the Mavericks can’t control the pace, this could get out of hand.
Luka Doncic bouncing back
Doncic rarely has two bad games in a row and the Sixers have the kind of defenders who can, in theory, give him trouble. But the Hornets do not have any players capable of slowing him down on the perimeter (lots of lengthy players though) and no rim defenders that will bother Luka. It’s reasonable to think Doncic might go nuts against the Hornets.
Luka is just 5 of 20 tonight. He's shot below 33 percent in three games this season. He scored 40+ in the next game two of those times.— Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla) March 19, 2022
The past two games the Mavericks have employed a rather blitz heavy scheme on the opposing team’s best perimeter player, first in Kevin Durant, then against James Harden. It’s fair to say that, when pulling back, the tactic did not work well because those players, like Luka Doncic, are too good (obviously the Mavericks clamped down enough against the Nets, but they did get down 14 to end the third). With how fast the Hornets play, it’s worth watching to see if the Mavericks can re-establish their bread and butter which helped them grind out many wins this season.
How to watch
This game has an early start time again, 6:00 pm on NBAtv nationally and Bally Sports Southwest locally.
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