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Mavericks vs. Hornets Preview: 3 things to watch for as Dallas visits Charlotte

The Mavericks try to break their losing streak in Charlotte.

Charlotte Hornets v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks try to get their season back on track before it’s too late, taking on the Charlotte Hornets at noon on Sunday in Charlotte. The Mavericks (36-38) desperately need a win to keep their play-in tournament hopes alive (yes, you read that right. We’re talking play-in tournament now, we’re not talking about playoffs anymore). The Hornets (24-51) aren’t really interested in winning, yet they took down the Mavericks in Dallas on Friday.

That’s where we’re at in Big D. The vibes are truly maculate, yet we must persist. There are still games to be played, and despite their worst efforts, the Mavericks can still make the playoffs (might take a miracle), and can definitely grab a spot in the play-in (just win a few game maybe?).

Here are three things to watch for:

Shoot some threes

The Mavericks are built to shoot 3-pointers. It’s not ideal, but it is what it is. And if you look at the box score from the last game, they shot more 3-pointers than the Hornets, 36 to 28. But here’s the thing—Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic combined to shoot 17 of those threes. No other Maverick had more than four 3-point attempts. This team is built to shoot and the role players have to let it fly. Too often, Doncic or Irving kick it out to an open shooter, who then passes it on to another player. If a Mavericks player gets some space on the perimeter, they’ve got to shoot those shots. It’s the only way they can win.

Tim Hardaway Jr. returns

Dallas has listed Hardaway as probable, and that’s huge. He won’t shy away from 3-pointers as mentioned above. It doesn’t matter whether he’s wide open or has Giannis Antetokounmpo closing out on him, if Hardaway can get a shot off, he’s sending it. One of the weirdest stats of the year—the Mavericks are 1-8 without Hardaway this year. They need him badly, as defenders respect his shot. He opens up more space in the lane for Doncic and Irving. Even when Hardaway is missing shots, they come within the flow of the offense, and defenders still stay close to him. The Dallas offense will get a big boost just by having him lurk on the perimeter.

Concentrate on grabbing rebounds

The Mavericks have struggled on the glass all year, and for multiple years. But the Hornets are actually the second-worst team in the NBA at rebounding. This isn’t a roster building issue, or coaching problem. It’s simply effort. Dallas should be able to dominate on the boards and prevent the Hornets from getting any second-chance points this game.