Golden State owns the league's best defense. However, their grit on D is overshadowed by their strength on offense.
The Mavericks are scoring a league second-best 106.8 points per game. Perhaps it won't matter. In their last meeting on December 13 in Dallas, the Warriors delivered an early knockout blow to the Mavericks. After a 39-18 first quarter performance, the W's cruised to a 105-98 win.
Both teams have progressed since, and both have undergone major personnel changes although the Warriors will be the only team with theirs on display. While Andrew Bogut will face Dallas for the first time this season, Mavericks point guard Rajon Rondo will sit out for his second game due to orbital and nasal fracture.
Despite Rondo's absence, the Mavs will aim for their fourth win in a row. They'll also seek to improve to 2-0 without Rondo on the floor. Chandler Parsons will return to the lineup after a stomach flu that kept him out of their previous contest against the Miami Heat and guard Devin Harris is questionable due to a leg injury suffered in the same game.
In what will be the second of four contests, a little Mavs misfortune can make the Warriors' day. Since acquiring Rondo, the Mavericks have held opponents to 33.1 percent from behind the arc, with quick defensive rotations and an ability to close out on shooters quickly. On the flipside, the W's are shooting 40 percent from three at home.
Tonight the Mavericks will relegate their wing rotation to a combination of Devin Harris, Raymond Felton, and Barea. Each of which will get a shot at slowing down Stephen Curry; none of them are known for their defensive prowess. None serve as a proper defensive replacement for Rondo. That spells trouble on the horizon for Dallas; especially with the Warriors averaging a league-high 64.3 assisted points per game.
Put out those Sparks
Energy is infectious, and Mavericks guard J.J. Barea has an abundance. Although he's only putting up seven points off the bench this season, he's capable of making big plays. His offensive aggression leads teammates to step their level of play up. If the Warriors get out to another hot start, look for Carlisle to insert Barea off the bench.
The Warriors will not only have to match Dallas' energy, they'll have to keep it in a stranglehold. Basketball is a game of runs, and if it's a close contest, Steve Kerr may elect to use his timeouts to prevent any momentum from the Mavericks.
Same ole' Bogut
When you have a big man capable of double-digit scoring and rebounds, anything but can seem sub par. Thus far, the Warriors have taken Bogut away from the rim on the offensive end. When you're up against Tyson Chandler and his 1.4 blocks a game, keeping him out of the paint on defense seems like a good idea.
Combined with the Maverick's defensive leader on the wing out of action, the Warriors should be able to drive the lane fairly easy. If their only rim protector is Dirk Nowitzki (who will have his hands full with Draymond Green), Dallas is in for a long night.
Nowitzki and the Mavericks will look for revenge. However with their team currently hobbled and short one superstar, they could be looking in the wrong place. A quick Warriors run in addition to a raucous Oracle environment makes for a tough Mavericks outing.