The Dallas Mavericks (34-32) head on the road for the first time since prior to the All-Star break to play the New Orleans Pelicans (31-34) in a key match up for both teams as the regular season winds down. It’s an early, nationally televised game: 6:30 start on ESPN.
Dallas finds themselves in the fifth seed despite being just two games over .500, while New Orleans is ninth in the West, though they’re tied with three other teams. A loss for either team would send each team tumbling down the standings.
Here’s three things to consider, prior to tip off.
Who suits up for the Mavericks?
While this game seems like a must win to us fans, there’s still a healthy chunk of the season remaining. Luka Doncic has not looked like himself the past few games and prior to the All-Star break, Dallas opted to sit Doncic on the second night of a back-to-back multiple times. Despite the importance of the game to the standings, the viability of the Mavericks rests in large part on Doncic.
It might also be worth asking whether Kyrie Irving needs a break as well. He’s averaged just under 37 minutes per game in these six home contests following the All-Star break. Irving’s not exactly known for his durability and his importance to the team is right up there with Doncic’s.
Then there’s the questions of Maxi Kleber, a guy coming off a hamstring injury recently. There’s also Reggie Bullock, who suffered a thigh contusion in the game. Heck even Tim Hardaway Jr. might not play after hurting his ankle. Bottom line is things might get a little goofy in terms of line ups if any of these players were to miss the contest.
Dallas is not good in the second night of back to backs
The Mavericks are just 2-8 on the second night of back to backs. Add in that they had to hop on a plane and head to New Orleans and they play the early game on ESPN, this strikes me as a really unfair travel disadvantage for the Mavericks. Dallas is just 12-19 overall on the road, so on paper, this looks like a schedule loss when factoring in all the injury information. It’s very annoying.
Tim Hardaway, man on a heater
One thing that’s somewhat lost in the mediocre post All-Star performance from the Mavericks is Tim Hardaway’s flame throwing. Tim’s shooting 29 of 46 from three, which is beyond preposterous. It’s safe to say that without his shot making, Dallas would’ve lost at least one more game during this homestand. They’ve needed him. Of course, the perils of relying on a Hardaway heater have been well documented in Mavsland, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun. With an iffy Pelicans defense, expect Tim to continue hoisting.
How to Watch
Like we’ve mentioned a few times: 6:30 pm CST on ESPN.