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Preview: Golden State heads to big Texas to face the Mavericks

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The Warriors start a back-to-back swing through Texas Wednesday night when they face off against the Mavericks

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Matchup
Dallas
Mavs
Dallas
Golden State Warriors
29-1 (14-1 ROAD)
@
Dallas Mavericks
18-13 (9-5 HOME)
Details
December 30, 2015
American Airlines Center — Dallas, TX
5:30 p.m. PST
Local TV: CSN Bay Area |  Radio: KNBR 680 AM
Blog Buddy: Mavs Moneyball
Projected Starters
Stephen Curry G Deron Williams
Klay Thompson G Wesley Matthews
Brandon Rush
F Chandler Parsons
Draymond Green F Dirk Nowitzki
Andrew Bogut C Zaza Pachouli
Key Injuries
Harrison Barnes (ankle) - Out
Leandro Barbosa (shoulder) - Out
Kevon Looney (hip) - Out
Deron Williams (hamstring) - Questionable

★★★

The Warriors head down to Texas for a pair of games against Western powerhouses, starting with the Mavericks on Wednesday night. This marks the first match up between Golden State and Dallas this year, and the start of another set of games between two great franchises with a good past rivalry. Let's take a look at how the two stack up:

Team overviews

The Warriors are coming off an odd but resounding win last Monday at Oracle. They fought through streaky shooting by Omri Casspi and a few quick injuries before righting the ship on their way to a fourth quarter blow out. Great teams can do this - cruise through a few quarters before stepping on the gas and zooming by lesser teams. The fear is, while playing in that lower gear, that Steph Curry could take a body slam on a loose ball by Rajon Rondo or Draymond Green can roll an ankle as DeMarcus Cousins throws a baby fit to create long term effects. But it's nitpicking - we all want to see 40-point blowouts and not watch the Warriors fall behind by ten in the first half.

Golden State still finds themselves without a full roster. Harrison Barnes and Leandro Barbosa have been ruled out for the road trip, making these two games even tougher. My gut says if these were playoff games, Barnes would be playing. But the team has looked solid if not spectacular with a few different rotations showing off Brandon Rush and Ian Clarke, so lets hope these role players keep filling up the score sheet while Harrison gets back to 100%.

The Mavericks sit in the cusp of an up-and-down season. No need to compare this match up to last years games between the Warriors - the Mavs feature 3 new starters from last year's team, including the enigma Deron Williams. The consistent? Arguably the best coach in the league in Rick Carlisle. He doesn't have the same weapons as in years past, but does have this team playing above their expected results. They don't do anything particularly well - they have an average offense (12th in the league), an average defense (15th in the league) but still find themselves in the top four in the Western Conference. They have moved up into the places previously held by Denver, the Pelicans and Portland behind the ageless Dirk Nowitzki, a healthier Chandler Parsons and the come back of Wesley Matthews. They feature four starters who average in double figures, and a solid bench of contributors deep down into the roster. One way they have succeeded? Winning close games. Their largest margin of victory has been 16 all season long, with many close wins (and some losses) in the books. Their luck could be completely different and they could easily be well under .500, but for now they are riding great success.

Predictions

  • We all want these games to be blow outs, but I just don't picture the short-handed Warriors running through Texas with no issues. They have been gifted with some good rest days through the last week and a half, but are still waiting for healthy bodies to return to the court. They even add Steph Curry to the injury list - many have said that he should be taking a day off. If the Warriors can keep creating big leads in the second half we can keep sitting Curry in the fourth, but for now one can only hope. The reality is that both the Mavericks and Rockets play hard at home, and these games will be grinds.
  • The Dallas game could easily be swung if Deron Williams is healthy enough to play. He has missed the last three games for the Mavs (three wins over the Nets, Bucks and Bulls). Even at his age he changes the course of the game, so to have him on will put the extra pressure on opponents.

Win prediction

The Warriors grind this one out, and the Mavs put the league on notice that they are a better team than teams expect. Dirk goes for 25, Parsons and Matthews hit 10 threes and this game goes deep into the fourth. Draymond comes up with a huge stop down the stretch and the Warriors eek it out with free throws 102-99.

(follow me on Twitter @badiehard)