Coming off a strong road win Thursday night against an admittedly inexperienced Laker team, the freshly minted 10-23 Dallas Mavericks will head a few miles north to face the team with the best record in the league on the second night of a back-to-back. Under circumstances like those, the expectation should probably move from "can they win?" to "can they make it close?"
Who is even going to play?
We know J.J. Barea won’t be out there. It’s reasonable at this point to assume Andrew Bogut will also sit Friday night’s game out, as he’s already on a minutes cap. Dirk Nowitzki missed Thursday’s matchup against L.A. with an illness, and it’s unclear if he’ll be ready so quickly. Dallas will likely be tired and shorthanded, so expect some of the younger guys at the end of the bench to get an extended look.
History says look out for Klay
Many dumb people like me thought that Klay Thompson would be the one to see his chances dip slightly with the addition of Kevin Durant, but that hasn’t really happened. Thompson took special offense to the Mavs last season, averaging 33 points per game in four games against them (more than any team except one). It might sound unfair to have to focus on Thompson when he’s flanked by Stephen Curry and the aforementioned KD, but that’s Golden State basketball for you.
Curry could shine — no, not that one
He undoubtedly would like to not be referred to as "the little brother", but Seth Curry will get a chance to duel his MVP sibling, and I’ve been very impressed with his recent play. Curry is converting close to 50 percent of his threes in the month of December after a surprisingly slow start to the season shooting from behind the arc. As the youngest of the four primary guards right now, Curry could get a larger share of minutes, as well.
As the calendar turns over for the Mavericks, it’s concerning to look back on a year that saw more Dallas losses than any other in nearly two decades. There is no guarantee 2017 will be much better, but it’s important to remember that sport — like life — goes in cycles, and that the low points can be good because they can make you appreciate the highs all that much more. So be thankful and enjoy whatever form of Mavericks basketball you get, because something is better than nothing at all. Happy New Year.
How to watch
Tonight’s game tips off at 9:30pm Central and can be seen on FSSW or on NBA League Pass outside of the Dallas area.