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Dallas Mavericks vs. New Orleans Pelicans preview: will injuries tell the story?

Division rivals clash in their final meeting of the season.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Both these teams are dealing with some crazy injury issues. Which missing player is having a bigger impact?

Considering that Anthony Davis is a stealth MVP candidate, at least in terms of numbers, he's the easy answer to a casual NBA fan. Yet, Mavs fans will tell you these games without Tyson Chandler* are borderline terrifying. Al-Farouq Aminu becomes the only player capable of rim protection and the only decent defensive rebounder (sorry, Amar'e Stoudemire). Despite Davis and Jrue Holiday missing time, the Pelicans are patching some of the holes playing different line ups. Dallas doesn't really have that option, so I'd argue the lack of Tyson Chandler is having a bigger impact for the Mavericks than Anthony Davis missing time with his shoulder injury.

*Tyson Chandler is still out as of this writing. We expect he may be a gametime decision for the Mavericks.

What's more likely: the Pelicans making a run at the 8 seed OR the Mavericks falling all the way to the 8 seed?

The Mavericks would have to take a 6-7 game tumble in the standings to find themselves all the way at the bottom of the West. The Pelicans are just a half game out of the playoffs at the moment, with a reasonable March ahead of them. Dallas, as we know, has a pretty brutal month ahead, but even my most pessimist self can't foresee the Mavericks hitting a losing streak that could see them fall that far. The 4-5-6 seeds are still most likely for Dallas. The Pelicans could gain some ground in March and that might be just enough for them to slip into the playoffs

What stat might surprise you about the Pelicans?

How about that former Maverick, Alexis Ajinca, shooting an absurd 60 percent from the field this year. You remember him, right? Dallas traded him to the Raptors in the spring of 2011 as they made a play to clear roster space for Peja Stojakovic. Sure, he's not playing more than 12 minutes per game, but over the last five games, some of which have been without Anthony Davis, he's shooting 71 percent from the field. That's ridiculous. If Tyson Chander is out, Ajinca could be in for a field day.

Who wins this match-up and why?

This is close to a must-win for the Mavericks. Losing to struggling Brooklyn on Saturday night is a borderline ridiculous loss. Chandler Parsons should be making a return, hopefully adding to the offensive punch for the disjointed Mavericks. Toss in the aforementioned injuries to the Pelicans and Dallas should have a chance to run over the Pelicans. Still though, the Pelicans feature Tyreke Evans, the kind of big, attacking guard that Dallas has had trouble with since time began. Dallas should win, because they are the better team with the better coach, but this will probably be an annoying fight to the wire.

Game Information

Tonight's game is at 7:30 p.m. Central on Fox Sports Southwest