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Mavericks vs. Nuggets Preview: Dallas looks to take season series from Denver

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The Mavericks can still hit shoot for 50 wins for the twelfth time in 14 seasons. But the team may already be looking ahead to the first round of the playoffs.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

So, who will even play tonight?

The Mavericks beat Denver by 8 points on Jan. 16 in their only matchup in which Dallas fielded a full squad. It remains to be seen whether that will be the case tonight with Chandler Parsons still nursing a sore knee and several other players candidates for a DNP-rest ahead of the playoffs.

With Dallas locked into the seventh seed for the first round, there's a chance we get something closer to the teams' first meeting two nights earlier when Greg Smith and Ray Felton started for the Mavs in Denver. A late comeback fell apart that night when J.J. Barea failed to get the ball to Parsons--or anyone else, really--down the stretch.

No matter who ends up starting tonight, it feels like the Mavs could go either way in their approach to this game.

After winning that first game against Dallas, the Nuggets would go on to win a combined two (2) games for the rest of January and February. Denver did win nine of 20 games after the firing of former coach Brian Shaw on March 2 but has come out ahead in only three of their last 10.

Even after trading away starting shooting guard Aaron Afflalo at the trade deadline, the Nuggets have enough talent at every position on the court to cause problems for an unfocused team.

Who is due for a big game?

Dirk Nowitzki and Danilo Gallinari--two of the league's best shooting forwards--have both struggled to put together consistent numbers this season but have found a groove in recent games. Gallinari posted 20 points against the Spurs on 12 shots then made 7 of 14 three points on his way to 27 points agains the Lakers Wednesday. Nowitzki, meanwhile, has scored 19 points on 52 percent shooting over his last five games.

Former Dallas point guard Jameer Nelson has taken over the starting job in Denver. Hopefully, he doesn't start a trend of former Mavericks putting up big numbers against the team after Gerald Green scored 30 points and Brandan Wright nearly put up a double-double for Phoenix Wednesday.

What does Dallas need to do to secure a win?

The Mavericks need to help Tyson Chandler (23 rebounds against Phoenix) on the boards. If there's one thing the Nuggets do well, even as they sleepwalk through the season, it's rebound the ball. The team ranks seventh in the league in rebounds per game and third in offensive rebounds per game, led by former Team USA star Kenneth Faried.

Game information

8:00 p.m. Central on FSSW