When the NBA schedule came out we all had the first game with the Clippers in Dallas circled for obvious reasons. But had the DeAndre Jordan fiasco not happened, this might have been the game we were all excited about.
Rajon Rondo returns to Dallas with the Kings, and surely won't get a nice reception from the AAC faithful after how last year ended. Not only that, but the Mavs also really need this win after losing two games to start 2016.
What happened the last time these two met?
The Mavs traveled to Sacramento on Nov. 30 and lost 112-98. DeMarcus Cousins dropped 31 points and grabbed nine boards while outmatching Zaza Pachulia and Dirk Nowitzki. Pachulia had a respectable 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Dirk was 5-of-15 from the field for 13 points.
Meanwhile, Rondo had 21 points and five assists in his first game against Dallas while Rudy Gay added 20. Even Darren Collison, the other former Mavs point guard on the Kings, had 15 points off the bench. It was just a frustrating game to end November for Dallas.
What Sacramento player might surprise you?
Let's keep the focus on Rondo. After essentially quitting on the Mavs near the end of last year, Rondo is having a resurgence with the Kings. He's averaging 12 points and 11.3 assists per game, but the more surprising thing is that he's shooting 45.9 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from deep. His free throw shooting is still terrible, but he's still managed to put together a nice season after a disastrous last year for both him and Dallas.
Of course, Sacramento has a losing record, so a lot of Rondo's stats might just be empty numbers. But there's no getting around the fact that he's playing well and seems engaged, which is really frustrating for Mavs fans.
What's the biggest matchup to watch?
How about Boogie vs. the Mavs' front court? In this two game skid, Dallas has been burned by big men against both the Heat and Pelicans. Hassan Whiteside went for 25 points and 19 boards when the Mavs visted Miami, while Anthony Davis had 31 points and 14 rebounds when the Pelicans were in town a few days ago.
We know Dirk is going to struggle defensively against competition like this, and Pachulia has his limitations against athletic bigs. Cousins has already had one big game against the Mavs, but shot 10-of-24 from the field in the process (mostly because he was possessed to shoot eight threes that game). The Mavs have to at least make life difficult on him, and not let him get whatever he wants like Whiteside and Davis.
How to watch
As usual, the game will be televised locally on Fox Sports Southwest or can be seen on NBA League Pass. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Central.