The Dallas Mavericks (25-20, 13-11 home) return to Dallas to square off with the Sacramento Kings (25-18, 11-10 away) a night after a historic performance by future Hall of Famer Luka Doncic. The Mavericks superstar dropped a staggering 73-point performance for the ages in Atlanta. While he may surpass this point total during his career, it is also possible we just witnessed the high point total game for an all-time player. If there is to be a statue erected opposite the current visage of the iconic fadeaway, this will be one of the performances that will be talked about on that day.
Teammates need to rally
Kyrie Irving, Maxi Kleber, and Derrick Jones Jr. are all listed as game-time decisions. Under normal circumstances, a full complement of roster options is imperative on the second night of a back-to-back. When your all-world player leaves all his dazzling genius on the floor, other players are going to need to step up and carry some of the scoring burden in case the gas tank is a bit drained. While it would not surprise anyone to see #77 drop a follow-up gem, a hot shooting night from Irving, Hardaway Jr, and others would be well-timed.
A Lively Task
The best passing big man outside of Denver comes to town. Domantas Sabonis is an elite center that routinely registers double-digit assists for his team. Can Derrick Lively slow down the Kings star in one-on-one scenarios well enough to allow Maverick defenders to stay home on shooters? It is a big ask but also the type of defense that may well determine this game.
Jockeying for Position
The Mavericks have slipped to 8th in the Western Conference. After all the positive energy that has pulsated through this team at various points, they have officially hit a lull. Before the detonation of 73 points on the Hawks, the Mavs were 14-18 across their last 32 games. The sort of insane second-half run to close the season two years ago that saw Dallas only lose 12 games after the start of 2022 is unlikely to materialize again. That makes home victories in less-than-ideal scheduling spots crucial. This would be a premium win if the Mavericks can find a way. We have seen this team show up for big moments (Minnesota) and fall apart for others (Phoenix) just in the last few games. Given that the potential tiebreaker with Sacramento might hinge on this game, which version of the Mavericks will show up?
Where to watch
The Mavs and Kings tip off at 8 pm on Bally Sports.