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Mavericks vs Spurs Preview: 3 things to watch as San Antonio visits Dallas

Dexter Dennis, stay ready

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Houston Rockets Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs make their way to the American Airlines Center to face the injury-riddled Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night. The Mavs injury report remains a mile long for this one and will ostensibly be another chance for the deeper end of the Maverick bench to see plenty of action. Irving, Kleber, Lively, and Green - barring a huge surprise - will remain out for this one. Luka Doncic and Dante Exum may be listed as game-time decisions but an appearance from either would only be a bit less surprising with the Christmas Day contest versus Phoenix looming large.

Seizing the Spotlight

Much of the Mavs' loss to the Houston Rockets will be flushed from collective memory for most of us - yet as is usually the case, bright spots did surface. Leading the Mavs in scoring, Olivier-Maxence Prosper posted 20 points a game going 6-13 from the field and 7-9 from the line. Richaun Holmes posted a solid 16-point, 8 rebound performance. End-of-the-bencher Dexter Dennis came on to contribute 18 points on a very efficient 8-11 showing from the field. Yes, most of these glimmers of positivity transpired with the game already decided - but it is these sorts of efforts that can influence a coaching staff to give an opportunity at meaningful minutes to players who perform well in low-leverage scenarios. If this one gets out of hand and the Spurs are rolling in the second half, who makes the most of the mop-up role?

The Spurs will play to win

Outside of their win over the Lakers on December 15th, the Spurs have lost every single game they have played stretching back to near the start of the season. After back-to-back road wins in Phoenix (which appear even more miraculous in hindsight) the Spurs have a record of 1-21. Given the likelihood Dallas will again be without most of its rotation - including their three best players - this is a juicy chance for the Spurs to snag a rare win. Despite the rebuild in real-time going on in San Antonio, expect Gregg Popovich and his staff to have the Spurs ready to take this very winnable game.

Trade Piece Preview?

While we are still weeks away from the February 8th trade deadline, there are a couple of Spurs that could be of interest to contenders. If San Antonio decides the timelines do not mesh to their liking, they may field offers on frontcourt Swiss army knife Zach Collins and scoring wing Keldon Johnson. While they are only 26 and 24 respectively, their value may never be higher and they may mean more to the Spurs as trade pieces to fuel the Wemby era. With the trades of Dejounte Murray and Derrick White, the Spurs have shown a willingness to trade their competitive pieces in service of the big picture they are building towards. In an era where some teams attempt to sidestep a full rebuild, the Spurs have embraced it - and dealing Collins, Johnson, or both between now and 2/8 should not surprise anyone.

Where to watch

You can catch the Spurs and Mavs on Bally Sports Southwest at 7:30 pm.