The Dallas Mavericks are in Denver tonight to face off against Nikola Jokic and the undefeated Nuggets at 8:00 pm on Fox Sports Southwest. Get ready for this matchup with projected starters and analysis of both teams just 3 games into the season.
Dwight Powell is listed as “probable” this game and I anticipate him being moved immediately into the starting lineup. Having played all last season with Luka and knowing his own role better than anyone on the team I do not think there is any issue deploying Powell right away with the starters.
Now that the Mavericks are potentially at full strength I hope Rick Carlisle can begin to bring some consistency and continuity to his lineups so that players can be more comfortable in their minutes. Up to now many players are being thrown out there at different times, with different lineups, and being expected to do different things. I think this is causing some difficulty for guys to get into a rhythm offensively.
The Nuggets are coming off of a breakout season where they finished 2nd in the West and had the 4th best record in the entire NBA. Their success was driven by their home court dominance, winning 34 of their 41 home games last year which was the best in the League. They get these teams from sea-level cities coming into the Mile High City and take full advantage.
While this seems like a very daunting matchup, trying to take down the Nuggets in Denver, the Mavericks do have the benefit of facing them coming off a back-to-back. The Nuggets played Monday in Sacramento then had to travel back to Denver to face the Mavs today.
Nikola Jokic is an MVP caliber player, Jamal Murray has become a legitimate All-Star candidate, Paul Millsap provides a veteran presence and does the dirty work, and then they have a stable of productive young players to fill out the roster. This is a matchup of two of the best young cores in the League and I expect to see the Nuggets and the Mavs have some great duels for years to come.
This will be somewhat of a revenge game for Luka Doncic after the events that transpired in Denver in March of last season. Luka capped of a fantastic night in Denver with a MONSTER jam over Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee to put the Mavs up by 1 with just 6 seconds to go in the game. However, Nikola Jokic stole Luka’s thunder by flipping in a leaning hook shot as time expired to send the Mavs home with a loss. Hopefully now with Porzingis available to try to put the clamps on Jokic, Luka and the Mavs can find a way to leave Denver with a win.