The Mavericks look to make it 4 wins in a row tonight against the back-to-back world champion Golden State Warriors for a 7:30 tip off at the American Airlines Center.
|Dallas Mavericks||Golden State Warriors|
|Position||14th in West||1st in West|
|Projected Starters||2018-2019 Season|
|PG||Dennis Smith, Jr||14.5||2.9||3.8||0.9||0.4|
|Golden State Warriors||PTS||REB||AST||STL||BLK|
The Warriors will be without 2 of their All-Stars this game (3 if you count Cousins) as Steph Curry is still sidelined with a groin injury and Draymond Green will be on the bench with a hurt toe. Not only that, the Warriors are coming off of back-to-back losses and are already sick of dealing with the distraction of Kevin Durant’s upcoming free-agency. This frustration became public after Draymond and KD had an on-court shouting match that spilled over into the locker room where apparently Draymond tried telling KD that he is not committed to the team and they don’t need him anyways. This resulted in a 1 game suspension for Green and the organization publicly backing Durant in the fued. With Green returning to the lineup Thursday, the Warriors were blown out by the Rockets in Houston on Thursday.
The Warriors will have their hands full again as they take on a surging Mavericks team that has won 3 in a row and coming off a 50 point victory over the Utah Jazz. The Mavericks defensive chemistry seems to finally be coming together. Holding the Jazz to 68 points, Head Coach Rick Carlisle called this Mavericks performance the best defensive effort he has ever seen from his team and this is a guy who coached the Ben Wallace Pistons.
Just because the Warriors are missing a few key pieces does not mean the Mavs can sleep on them, they still have two of the best shooters in NBA history in Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. A key matchup to watch in the game will be Dorian Finney-Smith’s defense on KD. Doe-Doe has made a name for himself this season for his defensive prowess and will be put to the ultimate test today. There is no such thing as stopping Durant, there has never been a more versatile scorer in the NBA. But if Finney can make things difficult for KD and prevent him from taking over at key moments, it will be a great success and give the Mavs a terrific chance for victory.
We know Finney-Smith will get the start today with Wesley Matthews taking the game off because of a hamstring injury. Also questionable for the game in the super-efficient Dwight Powell. Powell has been a key component to the dominant Mavericks bench this season, his energy and finishing ability will certainly be missed. It will be interesting to see how Carlisle adapts the lineup with Matthews and Powell in street clothes, but it seems to open the door for more minutes for the rim-protecting, Maxi Kleber, and the savvy rookie, Jalen Brunson.
Now that the Mavericks have seemingly sure’d things up on the defensive end. The last glaring area where the Mavs need to improve is with turnovers. Averaging 17.4 per game, the Mavs turn it over at the 5th highest rate in the entire NBA, very uncharacteristic of a Rick Carlisle team. Turnovers against a team as good as the Golden State Warriors are almost guaranteed to end up in layups, 3s, and big runs. It is going to be crucial to control the ball so we are not forced to play at the Warriors pace.
Just 1.5 games back of the 8th-seed in the West, a victory tonight would put the Mavs right back in the mix in the playoff hunt. After a slow start to the season, the Mavs are really picking up steam, let’s hope its enough to roll over the depleted Champs.
Betting Line: Warriors -4, over-under 216.