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Mavericks vs Magic Preview: 3 considerations as Dallas hosts Orlando

The relentless NBA schedule continues apace!

Dallas Mavericks v Orlando Magic Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks (25-21) host the Orlando Magic (24-22) at home on Monday night. It’s the annual “Seats for Soldiers” night for the Mavericks and the game will be broadcast at 7:30 pm on Bally Sports Southwest.

Dallas is not having a good January, with only five wins during the month and of those only a few feel solid in hindsight. Despite their record, the Mavericks are reeling; injuries have mounted, the mood is mixed, and Dallas is looking for a foothold on which to build. Interestingly enough, the Magic are also reeling. They too have just five victories to their name in January, with some frustrating losses against tough opponents. The Magic come to Dallas on night two of a back-to-back, so they could be tired.

This is a long way of saying both teams could really use a win.

Big vs Small

This is one of the few matchups that illustrates position by position, just how small the Dallas Mavericks are positionally. Against the Suns last night, the Magic played this starting lineup:

  • Markelle Fultz, 6’4”
  • Jalen Suggs, 6’5”
  • Franz Wagner, 6’10”
  • Paulo Banchero, 6’10”
  • Wendell Carter, Jr., 6’10”

They also gave 23 minutes to Jonathan Isaac, who also clocks in at 6’10”, and 23 minutes to Mo Wagner, who is 6’11”. Spot minutes went to Joe Ingles at 6’9 as well. They’re a big team.

The Mavericks... are not. But we knew that. So seeing how the Mavericks attempt to manage the Magic’s size is worth paying attention to.

Jonathan Isaac will tempt you, don’t let him

It’s perfectly okay if you only follow the Mavericks. That’s what I do, but it’s my job. I do pay attention to other teams, but I don’t watch a lot. I think that’s perfectly normal, watching NBA games for a team you like is a commitment, and watching beyond that is not a reasonable expectation for anyone with obligations or interests beyond basketball.

I say all that to note that the number 6 pick from the 2017 NBA draft Jonathan Isaac is playing tonight. I suspect he’ll actually play quite well. He’s got ridiculous measurements and has had moments in his career where he looks really, really impressive.

But he’s had injury issues for years. Go check out his Basketball Reference page. Old friend Nick makes this point too:

You might see him, decide he’s good, and lust after him. But then remember that he doesn’t play regularly. Dallas needs guys who can suit up, night in and night out.

Injuries, injuries, injuries

Kyrie Irving is listed as out, so scrap him from your brain (though... he needs to start playing; he’s played just 27 of 47 games including tonight). Maxi Kleber is listed as probable and as much as I complain about him, Dallas needs his size.

Dante Exum is questionable with a knee issue and if he can play, that raises the chances for Dallas significantly. Expect Orlando to send a lot of doubles at Luka Doncic and if Exum plays, that’s an important release valve. Dwight Powell is listed as questionable as well and just having another 6’10” guy is helpful, regardless of how you feel about his play. Derrick Jones Jr. is listed as questionable as well; that wrist injury may linger for a while.

Dallas needs bodies.

How to Watch

This game starts at 7:30 pm on Bally Sports Southwest