The Dallas Mavericks showed incredible heart and tenacity in their last match, a huge come-back win against the Utah Jazz on Thursday night, and will look to make their mark on a mediocre Orlando Magic team tonight in Dallas.
Last time these teams met was very early in the season. The teams kept things close until the Magic ran away with it in the final four minutes, earning a convincing 95-87 victory. Of course, the Mavericks looked like a completely different team back in November, riddled with scoring problems and more holes on defense than a colander.
Since then we’ve ridden a rollercoaster of emotions as the Mavericks have given us some absolute stinkers, when the number one pick in the draft seemed absolutely certain, and some amazing highs, including beating the Cleveland Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs back-to-back and climbing to within a couple of games of the playoffs.
It’s hard to know which team we will see tonight against the Orlando Magic, but here’s a few things to watch out for.
Will Harrison Barnes continue his scoring streak?
The start of February was not especially kind to Barnes, who averaged just over 13 points in his first three games of the month. But the last two games were completely different as he posted 26 points against the Blazers and followed it up with a 31 point showing in an overtime thriller against the Jazz.
Barnes will be looking to keep that hot shooting alive (56 percent over the last two games) and take it to Orlando’s weak defense, which is ranked 22nd in the league. With another big scoring performance from Barnes, the Mavs will be in a good position to win.
The Mavericks frontcourt will have their hands full
Nikola Vucevic is a 20-20 waiting to happen. Much like Harrison Barnes, it hasn’t been a great month for the Orlando Magic big man, but we have seen his numbers start to increase and Vucevic begin to look more like his usual self.
The Mavs’ size will really be tested with Dirk starting at the center spot, meaning we’ll likely see an increase in Salah Mejri’s minutes in an effort to limit what Vuvevic and Serge Ibaka are capable of on the offensive end.
The Magic will be HUNGRY for a win
Orlando has won a mere two games in their last 10 and are fresh off a heartbreaking loss handed to them by the 76ers. This season was supposed to be a step forward for this young team, but has been quite the opposite.
With the season looking more dire by the minute, the Magic may be forced to give up on any possibility of turning things around if they don’t start winning quickly. With this in mind, we will likely see Orlando throw everything at the Mavs to try and get the "Magic" back.
How to watch
Tonight’s game tips off at 8:00pm Central and can be seen locally on Fox Sports Southwest. Otherwise, you can catch it on NBA League Pass.