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3 things as the Mavericks face the suddenly mortal Warriors

Dallas has shown they can beat this version of the Warriors, but they don’t need to be so dramatic about it.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t that long ago that the Warriors were a team riding high, propelled by a 9-game winning streak, one of those a 38-point drubbing of Dallas, and enjoying their place atop the Western Conference. Those were happier days in the Bay. Today’s Warriors have, for a moment at least, returned to Earth, losing six of their last eight games, and none more painful than the 21-point lead they choked away to Dallas on their home court less than a week ago. Missing Klay and Draymond for extended times have Golden State looking much more reminiscent of the lottery-bound squad from a few years ago than the title contenders that were tearing up the league just a few months ago.

Well, it’s Mavericks vs Warriors again, but this time on Dallas’ home court, and no question about which team has that winning feeling surrounding them. If the Mavs’ 8-2 record over their last 10 games wasn’t proof enough, DraftKings has the Mavericks pegged at 2.5 point home favorites.

No funny stuff

When I said earlier that Golden State choked away the last game, it perhaps discredited what Dallas was able to accomplish. After all, the Warriors didn’t just lose the game, the Mavericks won it. Thanks in large part to a dominant fourth quarter that saw the Mavs surrender just 13 points. As a matter of fact, something very similar happened in Dallas’ next game against the Lakers. After a frightening third frame that saw Dallas’ own 21 point lead evaporate, the team defense snapped back into shape just in time and allowed just 17 in the fourth.

It was back-to-back thrillers for Dallas. And both wins! Nothing wrong with a little bit of an elevated heart rate. But let me run something else by you: going up early and just winning easily by, like, 12 points. Sounds good to me. The past two contests have shown Dallas’ ability to not only dig deep to get back in a game they were out of but also the gumption to get up off the floor after they get punched in the mouth. Good qualities for a team with deep playoff hopes. That said, so is just blowing teams out now and then, so let’s give that a shot, perhaps.

The Revelation of Spencer

When the season started, much was made about Dallas’ need for another ball-handler to play alongside Luka. When that need went unaddressed, the ensuing skepticism was quickly dashed by Jalen Brunson’s emergence as a full-time starting guard.

Well, people got a taste of that and asked, “we have ONE secondary ball-handler, yes. But what about a SECOND secondary ball-handler?” Enter Spencer Dinwiddie.

In his five games with Dallas, Dinwiddie has become one of the team’s premier isolation scorers, leading the team in effective field goal percentage on isolations with 55%. As per Iztok Franco’s tweet, you can see the value of having another player who can get their own shot has been to Dallas.

As Franco cautions (annoyingly responsibly), it’s a small sample size, and likely unsustainable efficiency, but anyone who watched those games could tell you they might not have been wins without Dinwiddie.

Light it up

Golden State, as a by-product of employing perhaps the greatest shooter of all time in Steph Curry, has become synonymous with offense, but their resurgence to Western Conference contention this season has, by and large, been driven by a league-best defense.

Taken as a whole, Golden State has the league’s top-rated defense and allows the fourth-fewest points per game. However, over this eight-game slump, it’s been a different story entirely. Their defensive rating has plummeted from first to 21st. Similarly, their points allowed have ballooned from 104 to nearly 114. Now, they’ve been without Klay Thompson for a couple of games and swiss army knife Draymond Green for even longer — neither of which help the cause. Dallas’ defense, by the way, is looking as strong as ever. With a hot shooting night and their new status quo level of defense and it could be a recipe for the aforementioned easy double-digit win. Fingers crossed.

How to watch

You can watch the broadcast on Bally Sports at 7:30 p.m. CST.

And check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.