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Mavericks vs. Hawks Preview: 3 things to watch as Dallas takes on Atlanta

Two teams know for their offensive firepower have been shooting blanks

Dallas Mavericks v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Dallas and Atlanta are two teams desperately in need of a win. Both are currently riding a three-game losing streak while dealing with injuries to key players. For Dallas it’s Kyrie Irving, for Atlanta, Trae Young and De’Andre Hunter have missed multiple games.

The vibes in Dallas have never been worse. Doncic is taking shots at Tim MacMahon during his post-game presser, Grant Williams seemed to get out from his funk just to draw two technicals and get ejected front he game against Phoenix, and while we don’t know what goes on in the locker room, Jason Kidd is not inspiring hope with his general malaise under questioning and lackadaisical sideline demeanor. Do I want to be evaluating a head coach’s body language? No! I don’t! But these are the depths one finds themselves in when their team is teetering on the brink of collapse.

Could be worse

Both teams have lost three in a row, but if we’re talking about slumps, Atlanta’s has been a bit deeper than Dallas’.

Over the last three games, the Hawks have shot just 40% from the floor and 32.2% from three. That’s down from their season averages of 46.2% and 36%, so fairly significant. For Dallas, their three-game slouch from the floor has resulted in 45.5% FG% and 34.1% from deep – compared to 47% and 37% on the year. The benefit of still having your main playmaker.

If Trae does remain out, there’s hope Dallas’ shaky defense should hold up against a Hawks team whose offensive ceiling should be quite a bit lower.

No breaks on the break

During this losing streak, Dallas is allowing its opponents to tilt the playing field when it comes to easy buckets. Opponents are scoring nearly seven additional points on the fast break, and on the flip side, Dallas is scoring three and a half fewer fast break points per game as well as a more significant six fewer points off turnovers.

Granted, these three games have been against solid teams, the Lakers, Celtics, and Suns. The Hawk’s aren’t having quite the same success this year, but they are ranked top-10 in the league when it comes to both second-chance points (7th), and points off turnovers (9th). Dallas can’t allow the Hawks offense to generate easy points, and that’s going to mean keeping turnovers down and playing with energy on defense to prevent Atlanta from slipping out for easy fast break opportunities. Especially with how down in the dumps the Atlanta offense has been.

Playing through it

After the loss to the Celtics, Irving mentioned spraining his thumb, but seemed determined to play through the discomfort.

He wasn’t able to suit up against Phoenix – fair enough, no point in playing injured right now – but it was another disappointment to fans waiting to see this team at full strength. Or at least something approaching full strength. For Dallas, that means seeing its three most important players on the court at the same time: Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and yes, rookie Dereck Lively. It’s only happened 18 times so far into this season’s 44 games.

Each member of that triad has taken their tern missing chunks of games due to injury, but its tantalizing potential (50.1 FG%, 40.4 3P%, 8.8 net rating) is one of the few things giving fans hope for a rebound this season. WIth any luck, Irving will feel good enough to go against Atlanta and, for the first time in a long time, we can see Dallas romp to a lopsided victory.

How to watch

You can broadcast or stream the game on Bally Sport and NBA TV at 6:00 CST.