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Mavericks vs. Nuggets Preview: 3 things to watch as Dallas takes on Denver

Dallas takes a banged-up squad on the road to try and steal one against Denver. Good luck!

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks have done well to win five of their last six games considering the number of injuries they’re currently dealing with. However, the teams they’ve beaten aren’t likely to see the postseason, and the game they lost – to the West-leading Minnesota Timberwolves – is more akin to the level of competition they can expect from Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.

Dallas remains without Kyrie Irving, and now rookie and defensive anchor Dereck Lively is in a boot after spraining his ankle in the win against Portland. Luka Doncic has looked like a superhero trying to keep Dallas in the win column, but to leave with a win in Denver, it may take something truly other-worldly.

Who is this imposter and what have you done with Grant Williams

Grant Williams opened the season with a seven-game stretch that made him look like one of Dallas’ best additions in years. Since then, and especially since coming back from a three-game absence due to injury, he’s been a shell.

More often than not, he’s finishing the game with a negative +/- and the outside shot that was so deadly early on has vanished completely. Excluding the game against the Lakers in which he shot 5-for-7 from three, he’s shooting 7-for-37 over his last 10 games; just shy of 19%. Not great. If Dallas is going to have any shot, every healthy Mav will need to contribute in a big way – especially Williams who we’ve seen can impact a game on both ends.

Bad Blood Boost

Luka has perhaps no greater buddy in the league than Nikola Jokic. They’re pictured together often at All-Star events they’ve attended generally laughing, paling around, and having a good time. A different Mavericks’ player has a notably different relationship with the Big Serb – Markieff Morris.

The Dallas big was on the wrong end of a Jokic hip check after the two got into it during a game in 2021. Morris didn’t get any playing time the last time these two teams faced off, but he’s been getting rotation minutes and playing quite well with Maxi Kleber and now Lively out. Someone on this team is going to have to dig deep defensively to have any hope against Jokic. Maybe, for one game, a bitter, vengeful Markieff Morris can be that player.

When does the gas light come on?

Getting contributions from guys like Williams and Morris is great – necessary, even, against a team like the Nuggets – but everyone who’s watched even a quarter of Dallas basketball since 2019 knows this is Luka Doncic’s show.

He’s been on an insane tear of late. He’s in the midst of a 10-game streak of scoring 30 or more points and has averaged 8 rebounds and 11 assists in that same timeframe. However, to pull it off, he’s had to play 40 minutes per game. Jason Kidd is aware, and he said they’re going to try and get his minutes back down, but Luka sitting on the bench and Dallas winning games against contending teams is a Venn diagram with two circles touching even less than two 7th graders having their first slow dance in front of a parent chaperone at the homeschool prom. They don’t touch is what I’m trying to say. Ah, well, we ball.

How to watch

You can broadcast or stream the game on NBA TV at 8:00 CST.