The season continues for the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday at home against the Sacramento Kings.
The Mavs have played better of late, with a pair of competitive games against the Hornets sandwiching an impressive blowout victory over the Bulls. The Kings, meanwhile, haven’t won a game in over almost a week and a half, but were in games late against the Knicks and Celtics.
After beating the Kings 21 times in 23 meetings prior to 2015, the Mavs had trouble with Sacramento last season, losing 3 of 4 to an inconsistent but offensively potent club. How will things go this around? Let’s take a closer look:
Weather the injury storm
The biggest development from Monday night’s loss to Charlotte was also losing center Andrew Bogut, though the injury is apparently less serious than what some feared. A bone bruise in his knee will sideline the Mavs’ defensive anchor for at least 10 days, and given the Aussie’s struggles staying healthy in his career, that may be an optimistic timetable.
Bogut joins Seth Curry as the latest Mavs felled by injury, and along with Dirk and Barea, make up a lot of talent in street clothes for Dallas. Curry, who already missed two chances at playing against his hometown Hornets, will also miss his first shot at some payback against his most recent team. You’ve probably heard by now that Sacramento rescinded a qualifying offer on Curry, making him available for Dallas, even though Curry averaged 16-5 for the Kings in the 2015-16 season’s final month of play, the only one where he received consistent playing time.
Going back to Andrew Bogut for a second, Dallas will obviously miss Bogut against Kings’ star DeMarcus Cousins, who has scored 32 or more in five of his last six games, and averages over 29 points per contest thus far in the season. Cousins is a load inside but has developed into one of the best inside-out big men in the sport, fitting in the new paradigm of five-out basketball that has taken the league by storm.
Expect a lot more Salah Mejri and Dwight Powell than we’ve seen lately. Powell is not a good matchup defensively on Cousins, but Dwight has put together a good stretch lately, with easily his two best performances of the young season coming in back-to-back games. Powell converted 7-of-11 shots in both games for a combined 32 points, and has looked explosive by comparison to Bogut in the pick and roll, so there will be at least one small area in which the skinny but athletic Powell can be an upgrade.
Get off to a hot start
This might seem obvious, but Sacramento has notably struggled at the start of games, and if the pattern continues it would behoove Dallas to build as big a lead early as they can. The Mavs rode that strategy to an easy win against the Bulls, but overall this season, they have often come out of the gate slow. So it will be an interesting challenge.
How to watch
Catch the game at 8:30 Eastern, 7:30 Central time on Fox Sports Southwest or via League Pass. Enjoy Mavs fans!