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Mavericks vs Warriors Preview: 3 Things to watch for when Dallas takes on the Golden State Warriors

With a postseason berth on the line, every game is crucial down the stretch.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (36-36) will host the Golden State Warriors (37-36) in a matchup that could very well decide which one of these teams advances to the postseason in some capacity. With the season series currently tied at 1-1, a win by the Warriors would essentially put them 3 games ahead of the Mavericks with 9 games left. A win by the Mavericks would give them an identical record to the Warriors but give them the tiebreaker edge. With the 6th through 12th seed currently separated by just a game and a half, every tiebreaker scenario is critical.

Of course, it’s impossible to break down what could happen in this game without talking about injuries. For Golden State, Draymond Green and Kevon “The Maverick Killer” Looney are currently listed as probable. For Dallas, it’s two stars, Luka and Kyrie, are also listed as questionable for the game as well. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 3 things to keep an eye out for during tonight’s game.

Will Christian Wood impose his will on the Warriors?

With Kevon Looney and Draymond doubtful, Wood should be able to dominate the boards. Anything less than 10-12 rebounds for Wood would be a huge disappointment. He should be able to put pressure on an undersized Warriors team and draw fouls in the paint while also generating 2nd chance opportunities for his teammates. Jason Kidd, who has consistently limited Wood’s minutes due to his inability to defend the rim, should feel comfortable giving Wood a heavier workload. With Luka and Kyrie out, Wood will likely need to shoulder the offensive burden. Wood is clearly our third best offensive player and with everything to play for, it’s time we let him loose.

What version of the Warriors will show up?

The Warriors are 8-29 on the road. You read that correctly, 8 wins and 29 losses. First, their shooting splits on the road are considerably worse than their numbers at home. Second, their defense has let them down consistently against teams that the Warriors of old would have ran off the court with ease. Draymond, the key to their defense, and Andrew Wiggins, the Warriors best perimeter defender, are both out. With Curry still at the top of his game and Klay looking more and more like the Klay of old, the Warriors should be better than they are. We keep assuming they will flip the switch one of these days, but we may have reached the point where we have to accept what our eyes and the numbers are telling us. As a whole, and particularly on the road, the Warriors simply aren’t a very good basketball team.

This game has Tim Hardaway Jr’s name written all over it

Is it wishful thinking? Possibly. But if a defensive struggle is your thing, you may want to skip out on this particular game. This game will be free flowing. The shot selection will be questionable. The rivers will overflow with heat checks and unforced turnovers. In my best Jim Ross voice, “by gawd, that’s Tim Hardaway Jr.’s music.” The team needs him to go 7 for 11 from deep and single handedly will this team to victory. The Mavericks chances of making the postseason could very well depend on it.

How to watch

The game tips off at 6:45p.m. on ESPN with coverage starting at 6:30.