The Dallas Mavericks (32-31) play host to the Philadelphia 76ers (40-21) in Dallas Thursday night at 6:30 pm on TNT. Simply put, the Dallas Mavericks need a win. They’ve now lost five of their last six, including two in a row at home. The 76ers, meanwhile, have lost two of their last three but are coming off a big road win against the Miami Heat.
Let’s get right to it.
Limiting Joel Embiid, somehow, some way
Despite it being the second night of a road back-to-back for the Sixers, they should be in pretty good shape. That’s because they gave Joel Embiid Wednesday night off as he’s been managing a foot issue for a good chunk of the season. Embiid is just one tenth of a point behind Luka Doncic for top spot as the NBA’s top scorer. He’s facing a very bad Dallas defense with precisely one (1) person capable of defending the rim in Maxi Kleber. We all know Kleber is coming back from his injury and looked pretty good against the Pacers. Embiid is a different level of challenge. Oh well, we’ll always have this:
We’ll always have Maxi Kleber becoming Joel Embiid’s father pic.twitter.com/irkR1NIAKm— Jason Gallagher (@jga41agher) December 22, 2019
I suspect the Mavericks will through a lot of doubles at Embiid in an attempt to get the ball out of his hands. That leads us to the next point.
Keep a close eye on James Harden
It’s strange to say that people may have written off a 33 year old 10-time All-Star. And yet that’s what we’ve done with Harden, by and large, as a basketball community. He’s been injury prone, has asked to be traded repeatedly, and is James Harden. Over looking him makes sense, given his recent history.
And yet he’s having a fantastic season. Michael Pena details it more here, but Harden looks like an ideal partner for Joel Embiid. If Dallas does send an extra man at Embiid, it should be Harden getting a chunk of the benefit, attacking off ball. Losing to Harden would be very annoying.
Look guys, we’ve been kicking the crap out of Jason Kidd, in no small part because he’s not a good coach. We’ve focused on him, I think, becuase of the list of the problems in Dallas, he’s the one they could change right now if they had the organizational will. But since they most assuredly do not have that will, it might be worth looking at the team’s best player and asking him to be better, just like Kidd did after the Lakers loss.
Lost in the shuffle of losing to the Pacers was the fact that Doncic got his 13th technical a game after being called out for letting the refs affect his play. That’s pretty bad! Hopefully he channels that hyper-competitive spirit into some defense. A man can dream, right?
How to watch
It’s an early game on TNT, starting at 6:30 pm.