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3 things to watch for as the Mavericks take on the Heat

Will a season-best win streak reach four games?

NBA: Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks have won three straight games.

If that statement doesn’t impress you, keep in mind it’s the first time we’ve been able to say that all season.

Fresh off a one-point victory in Chicago, the Mavs journey to South Beach in what won’t be a terribly familiar rematch of the 2011 NBA Finals. Both these once storied franchises have fallen on hard times, though a recent surge has put Dallas ahead of Miami in the standings for the moment. The only players left standing from that showdown now a half-decade old (crazy to think) are Dirk Nowitzki and J.J. Barea.

Will Carlisle stick with the five out lineup?

Undoubtedly the catalyst for this win streak has been the decision to insert Seth Curry into the starting lineup, effectively deploying the team’s five best shooters in a five-man spread attack, with Dirk as probably the league’s deadliest stretch five (at least in resume). With Hassan Whiteside coming to town, however, will that strategy continue? Andrew Bogut has not yet been ruled out, but talk surrounding his injury suggests he’s not ready to return. Also worth considering is that Dallas will playing Thursday in the first game of a back-to-back (concluding with a quick flight back to Dallas to host Utah Friday).

Are the Heat getting warm or freezing over?

Miami is coming off perhaps the best win of the season, beating an undermanned Houston squad Tuesday. The question is: is that win a sign of a turnaround, or an oasis in a desert of losses? Prior to that win, the Heat had lost four in a row and 10 of 11. Their defense — a strength earlier in the season -- had allowed at least 103 points in 4 of their last 5, including an embarrassing 127 to the Lakers and 116 to the Milwaukee Bucks. Health has been an issue for Miami, much like Dallas, and a weakened Heat defense could be vulnerable to a Mavs offense that appears to have found its stride.

Good matchup for Dallas?

Just looking at the team on paper, the Heat look like a pretty favorable matchup for Dallas. The Mavs are last in the league in two categories: rebounding, and three-point defense. Fortunately, neither category is a strength for Miami, who are in the bottom third of the league in rebounding themselves, as well as three-point shooting.

How to watch

Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 Eastern Time, 6:30 Central, and can be viewed by way of Fox Sports Southwest or a League Pass account. Enjoy!