What has Orlando done lately?
Since James Borrego took over the coaching reins from the ousted Jacque Vaughn, the Magic have a record of 6-10 and have gone 4-8 since the All Star break. Their only significant win came against the New Orleans Pelicans on February 20th. More recently, the Magic are on a five game skid in which they have lost to the Pacers, Bucks, Celitcs, Cavaliers and Rockets (last night).
What's the biggest matchup to watch?
Sure, we could discuss Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, or Nikola Vucevic but nah. Let's discuss Tobias Harris, shall we? Harris, a 6-foot-9 small forward is one of the best players on the Magic. In the month of March, Harris is averaging 17.9 points on 46.9 percent shooting as well as 39.5 percent from downtown. Further, in the 11 games in which he has played without any days off, he is averaging 17.4 points on 50 (!) percent shooting and 45.2 percent on 3-point attempts. He'll be playing with no days rest against the Mavs.
It will be up to Chandler Parsons to slow Harris down.
Okay, maybe Parsons won't really slow him down. He has a Defensive Rating of 117.6 in March. That's not good. What is good is that Parsons is also a handful to slow down. In his three home games this month, Parsons is averaging 23.7 points on 65.8 percent shooting. What's more impressive is that he is shooting 73.3 percent on 3-pointers in those games. That's insane!
This could be a big night for the small forwards.
Which team stat might determine the game?
By now, we are all aware that the Mavericks are a poor, nay terrible, rebounding team. They will likely not win the rebounding battle tonight against the Magic with Vucevic doing his best Windex impersonation. Therefore, the Mavs will have to connect on their 3-point attempts. Since the All Star break, Dallas has shot just 33.2 percent on 3s. However, in the last two games, the Mavericks have been on fire from behind the arc, connecting at a clip of 49.1 percent. If they can continue to have success from downtown, they will be very difficult to slow down.
What do the Mavs need to do to be successful against the Magic?
The Magic haven't been a particularly good team on the road this season. Since the All Star break, Orlando has posted an Offensive Rating of just 91.8 away from the Amway Center per NBA.com. Conversely, the Mavericks have a home Offensive Rating of 107.4, per NBA.com, since the All Star break. Moreover, the Mavs have been playing grittier and seemingly more determined since getting embarrassed by the Cavaliers three games ago. All of the numbers point to a Dallas victory on national television. Therefore, IT'S A TRAP GAME!
Look, we were all wary about this five-game home stand that the Mavs are currently on. The loss to Cleveland didn't do our confidence any favors. We collectively looked at the schedule and said, "Well, at least they should be able to beat Orlando." Then we all sighed and went back to messily eating our Sloppy Joes. Hey, don't judge us, this is who we are when we are alone. And we thought we were alone when we looked at this five-game stretch.
However, the Mavericks have shown us something over the last two games. They showed that they can compete with two of the best injured teams in the Western Conference. There's something to be said about that. Orlando probably couldn't stymie the likes of Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook in two consecutive games. Dallas did.
Yes, it's the second game of a back-to-back for the Magic after playing in Houston Tuesday but that doesn't mean Orlando will just throw in the towel. Besides, the Mavericks may just give the Magic the offensive opportunities they have been lacking on the road. Dallas has a Defensive Rating of 103.9 at home since the All Star break, per NBA.com. This game will be closer than it should be because that's just how the Mavs roll.
7 p.m. Central on ESPN and FSSW