The Mavericks are looking for soothing balm and emergency therapy after their 116-74 meltdown in Philadelphia. They’ll get the 13-55 Brooklyn Nets instead. The Nets are one of the two teams in the league to be officially eliminated in the playoffs and are the runaway leader for having the most ping pong balls in the 2017 draft... FOR BOSTON (thanks, KG). However, Brooklyn has gone in 4-6 over the last ten so they do appear to be improving a bit of late and maybe a bit of a sleeper.
For Dallas, Sunday’s game will be the last game of a four game road trip. Dallas is down 1-2 on the trip and will play for the split before getting the Golden State Warriors at home on Tuesday.
Here are four players to pay attention to in this midday classic:
Will Nerlens Noel play 30 minutes?
Noel has generally looked good as a Maverick, averaging 10/8 with 1.3 blocks, although he has yet to play a ton of minutes. So far, he has played only one game over 30 minutes (35 minutes against Memphis on March 3) after playing 30 minutes against the New Orleans Pelicans in his Mavericks debut on February 25.
He likely would’ve played in the high 20s if the 76ers game didn’t get so meltdown-y. We’ll see if he gets more run against the Nets, who surprisingly play the fastest pace in the league.
Jeremy Lin is healthy and playing well
Lin was Brooklyn’s big free agent signing this year but has been injured for most of the year due to hamstring injuries. With Lin, the Nets have been 7-16 (.304), merely a not feeling well team, compared to 6-38 (.136) without him, a squeamish shut the blinds team. That’s a huge difference for a single player.
Lin has remained brilliant in his trademark pick-and-roll (85th percentile in the league) but has also been a solid defensive player this year. According to this article, "Lin ranks in the 85th percentile on defense this season per Synergy Sports, despite playing for a Nets team that is third to last in Defensive Rating per NBA.com."
Caris LeVert is young and exciting
If Lin is the underrated vet for the Nets, the exciting rookie to watch is Caris LeVert. A favorite of hoop sleeper watchers, the 2017 20th overall rookie LeVert has started every game in March and has flashed both potential and growing pains. LeVert has an all-around game with good defense, some playmaking and the Nets are looking to see if he can be a corner piece for them.
LeVert is also capable of doing mean things to Victor Oladipo.
Which version of Seth Curry shows up?
Curry has been one of the hottest players out of the All-Star break and teams have paid notice. "Seth is seeing a lot of physical defenders and guys attacking him at the offensive end to make it tough on him,’’ Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "So, he’s in situations where he’s going to see a lot more of that and we’ve got to help him adjust."
In the last week, Curry has averaged 8.5 points a game shooting 36.7% from the field after averaging 17.5 points on 53% shooting after the All-Star break. Not surprisingly, his plus-minus has been a minus 10 during his slump and the Mavericks’ scoring has suffered. Curry busting out of his slump will do wonders for the Mavericks’ offense.
How to watch
The Mavs take on the Nets at 11:00 a.m. CST. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass.