On paper, tonight’s game against the Brooklyn Nets isn’t the most exciting match-up. This means some fans might need a reason or two to pay attention, how about four?
1.) The Mavericks are starting to gel. I know it doesn’t feel that way after such a flat performance against Memphis Monday night but it’s true. They’ve gone 4-1 in their last 5 games and have looked more efficient on both sides of the ball. Last week an article saying Mavs Center Deandre Jordan “rubbed teammates the wrong way”. Mavericks players and coaches came out saying this wasn’t true and then proceeded to beat the Jazz and the Warriors. This video of Deandre playing with JJ Barea’s son in the locker room doesn’t help the case for discord in the locker room either.
2.) Dirk is getting a key to the city at halftime. Mike Rawlings posted to his Facebook page Tuesday morning that he would be presenting Dirk Nowitzki with a key to the city for “outstanding contributions to the community and for his professional achievements in his 20 seasons with the Mavericks.” In some cities this isn’t really a big deal but the Mayor has only given 3 keys out during his 7 years in office. 13X All-Star, League MVP, Finals MVP, NBA Championship, and now City of Dallas Key-holder. Plus, who doesn’t like seeing the G.O.A.T get awards? No one, the answer is no one.
3.) This is a very winnable game for the Mavericks. A tough loss to a divisional opponent like Memphis hurts but the best way to heal that wound is to lay a beating on a less talented Brooklyn squad. The Nets aren’t terrible, but they aren’t good either. Until last week’s unfortunate injury, they were led by early “Most Improved” candidate, Caris LeVert. D’Angelo Russel and Jarrett Allen are the two most talented players on the team now. While they both show spurts of brilliance neither have been consistent enough to call stars. The Nets are also on the second night of a back-to-back after last nights win in Miami they travel to Dallas and face the Mavericks who are well-rested. This should be a W and another step toward .500.
4.) Luka vs. whoever Kenny Atkinson offers as tribute. Luka Dončić is fun to watch, this isn’t breaking news anymore. If you don’t care about any of the other reasons, watch for who will be fooled by Luka’s pass fake or his step back. It’s fun to watch Dončić make so many defenders look like lost children at Northpark Mall, spinning in circles and flailing arms. I’ve always been a stats guy and while I understand that intangibles exist it has been quite a while since I have seen that quality manifested in a Mavericks player. It’s most commonly found on the bench, in role players. DeShawn Stevenson was probably the last player I remember that absolutely lit up a crowd every time he contributed a steal or a 3-pointer. Imagine that feeling, but the contribution is exponentially more consistent than good ol’ Abe-Neck Stevenson. Luka makes every game worth watching.