The Dallas Mavericks (13-8, 7-4 away) visit the Memphis Grizzlies (6-15, 1-9 home) for a game that Dallas should win despite the rash of injuries. Apart from shimmers of shooting brilliance from Desmond Bane that have brightened moments of the Grizzlies' season, the pall cast by Ja Morant’s egregious offseason decision-making has doomed their season. Can the Mavs get role-player contributions and an all-around performance from Luka Doncic to stave off any chance of Memphis picking up their second home win?
When Dwight Powell took a tumble and crashed into Kyrie Irving, the state of the Mavericks season was suddenly far less certain. Having already dealt with chronic foot issues, this looked like a possible season-ender for Irving in real-time. Thankfully for Dallas, the injury news was the best the team could have hoped for. Nonetheless, the starting guard will be sidelined along with Josh Green, Maxi Kleber - and quite probably Grant Williams.
The Mavs have benefited from an injection of playmaking and energy from Dante Exum, shooting from Seth Curry, and minutes from youngsters Lawson and Prosper. They’ll need a full team effort to cover the absence of 4 of their top 8 rotation players from opening night.
The Bane of their Existence
The aforementioned Desmond Bane has shined this year in Memphis. With Morant unavailable all season, the shot attempts have been available and the green light has been bright from the sideline. The fourth-year shooting guard is averaging 24.6 points on 46 percent from the field and a solid 38.6 percent on just shy of 9 three-point attempts per game. Dallas can afford a 25-30 point night from Memphis' best player, what they would hard pressed to overcome is a 40-45 point effort. In a recent outing on the road in Detroit, Bane dropped 49 - showing he is capable of detonating on teams that give him too much space. Expect to see plenty of Derrick Jones Jr attached to Bane for much of this one.
The Re-Emergence of Dante Exum
NBA teams get into certain rhythms very quickly and it usually takes some external force or nonsequitur bit of happenstance to shake things up. If Maxi Kleber had remained healthy, Richaun Holmes would likely still be buried deep on Jason Kidd’s bench. The same can be said of Josh Green’s pesky elbow issue opening the door for Dante Exum to receive an expanded role including moving into the starting lineup.
The former lottery pick shined during the Mavs trip to Portland with 23 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. If Exum continues to be a solid answer to the vexing third guard question, the rotation may look different when Dallas is once again - fingers crossed - fully healthy.
Where to Watch
You can see the Mavericks face off with the Griz on Bally Sports Southwest at 7 pm.