The Mavericks are on a roll, having won five out of their first six games coming out of the All-Star break. The Mavericks are neck-and-neck with the Utah Jazz for the fourth seed and the victory on Monday night brought things almost to a dead heat. Now the Mavericks get a bit of a schedule reprieve and take on the struggling New York Knicks Wednesday night in Dallas.
With four of the first six games out of the All-Star break being against contenders Utah and Golden State, the Mavericks have an opportunity to creep up the standings with two straight games against teams currently not even in the play-in picture. The Knicks have won two in a row entering this matchup, but before that lost 11 of their last 12 games.
Dallas will need this win to keep pace with the hot streaks of the other West teams bunched up in the standings. Here are three things to watch for.
Can the Mavericks avoid a let down?
Dallas has been going full throttle for a while now, with the trade of Kristaps Porzingis bringing new juice to the team and spectacular play from Spencer Dinwiddie.
Despite how well the Mavericks have played, they have flown a little too close to the sun in the last week or so. Dallas needed to mount fourth quarter comebacks in the wins against the Warriors, Lakers, and Kings. Thankfully, the recent win against the Jazz saw the Mavericks leading wire-to-wire — hopefully against a lesser Knicks team, the Mavericks can repeat that type of performance.
The Mavericks immediate schedule after these two games against the Knicks and Rockets is tough: simply put, Dallas needs to take advantage of this soft spot in the schedule. The Mavericks are currently a 7.5 point favorite at home. They cannot drop this game.
Spencer Dinwiddie doing it all
The Mavericks newest acquisition has been remarkable since the All-Star break. In the six games so far, Dinwiddie has averaged 22.3 points and 5.3 assists per game on 55.3 shooting from the field and 48.5 percent from three.
Dinwiddie’s three point shooting feels the least sustainable, as he’s a career 32 percent shooter from deep. Outside of that, however, everything else Dinwiddie is doing feels real. He’s always been a good downhill attacker and someone that can finish in traffic thanks to his 6’5 frame. The extra space in the Dallas offense provided by Luka Doncic and the role players’ shooting has done wonders for Dinwiddie’s game. He’s eventually going to have a bad shooting night, but this has been a fun ride so far. Can it continue?
Can Dorian Finney-Smith keep filling the box score?
Dorian Finney-Smith has scored in double digits in five straight games, one of the longer stretches of his career. Not only that, but he’s had at least 15 points in the last four games, the longest stretch his ever done that.
Finney-Smith providing that kind of scoring punch is an absolute bonus for a Mavericks team that only requires him to play great defense and knock down a handful of open looks. The shooting from the corners is there as always, but he’s had a couple nice drives to the basket in the last week. This shouldn’t be the expectation for Finney-Smith moving forward, but it’ll be fun to see if he can keep up this scoring streak. The Mavericks feel unbeatable when Finney-Smith is putting up points like this.
The frontcourt matchup
Since the Porzingis trade, the Mavericks have been a little thin up front — Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber have been the only bigs in the Mavericks rotation, as Jason Kidd keeps Boban Marjanovic saved for an emergency situation and Marquese Chriss remains sidelined with a knee injury.
Normally, this would be a dicey matchup for the Mavericks frontcourt, but Dallas has three things in its favor:
- Knicks center Mitchell Robinson is questionable with an illness that only let him play two minutes in the Knicks previous game against the Kings.
- Knicks backup center Nerlens Noel is out with a foot injury.
- Knicks forward Julius Randle has been having a wildly inconsistent season.
If Randle and Robinson play, that’ll be a tough matchup for the Mavericks light center rotation. Even if it’s just Randle, he always provides a headache for the Mavericks, regardless of how well he’s playing during the season. Oh, and he just dropped 46 points against the Kings on Monday. How Powell and Kleber do against Randle will go a long way to determining a winner Wednesday night.
How to watch
The game tips off at 7:30 p.m CST and you can watch at Bally Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass.
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We also recorded a special podcast with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Check that out here, in the embed below, or search out Mavs Moneyball Podcast in your favorite podcast provider.