The Dallas Mavericks begin March -- a critical month -- looking to extend their winning streak to three games, and in the process, perhaps get a little revenge. Dallas hosts the Orlando Magic Tuesday, and will hopefully build on the momentum gained from Sunday's rout of the Minnesota Timberwolves. With just 22 games left to play in the regular season, the time to make a late push up the playoff standings is now.
What have the Magic done lately?
The Magic have won just two of their last five -- both against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers -- and appear firmly entrenched at the bottom of the Southeast Division. As the season winds down for Orlando, it's hard to get a great read on where they are at in year 4 of the Post-Dwight era. The Magic seem to be a franchise without a real direction, to be honest. They have some intriguing young players, and some quality veterans, but how the pieces fit remains unclear and this seems punctuated by the trade just before the deadline that sent Tobias Harris out for Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova. Harris was traded presumably to allow Aaron Gordon and Mario Hezonja to play the two forward spots full time, but when you look at what was lost versus what was gained, it seems like a lateral move at best. Meanwhile, Ilyasova duplicates the sweet shooting/no defense skillset of several of the other Magic big men like Nikola Vucevic and Channing Frye, and Brandon Jennings is apparently in the doghouse already as he's been behind C.J. Watson in the rotation for new coach Scott Skiles.
What happened the last time these two played?
Record aside, the Magic are an NBA team and they managed to knock off the Mavs back on February 19th. It was the first game back from the All-Star Break and Dallas appeared to show a little rust. Still, it was a disappointing loss for several reasons. Orlando jumped out to a huge early lead, which Dallas managed to gradually erase, even taking a double-digit lead of their own, before collapsing in the fourth quarter and fumbling away the game in what felt like their 50th overtime of the season. Chandler Parsons had 24 points but on just 11 shots, and hit six of the record 19 threes that the team made on the night. Deron Williams led all scorers with 25, and hit the record breaking triple with under ten seconds left, which also represented half of the Mavs' overtime scoring total. It was a strange game, and it will be curious to see if there is any extra motivation derived from it in Tuesday's re-match.
What will be the key matchup?
At this point, I'm just watching to see how long Chandler Parsons can keep this up. Since his minute restriction was lifted, Parsons has been on a serious tear and although his overall stat line doesn't yet reflect how dominant his play has been the last month plus, he is forging his place as the future franchise player for the Mavericks, and all that really remains is for Chandler to be consistent enough to truly become a nightly number one option, as his contract (both the one he has currently and the one he's about to fetch over the summer) says he should be. Orlando, Chandler's hometown team, poses an interesting matchup for CP, as the Magic have that aforementioned pair of young forwards who are both long and athletic. Parsons was extremely efficient back on February 19th, but sufficed to say Dallas will want more than 11 shots from him if they're to pull out the victory.
How to watch
Tip-off scheduled for 8:30 Eastern Time, 7:30 CT, and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest. For those outside the Dallas area, be sure to watch the action on League Pass via your streaming device. Enjoy, and go Mavs!