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Warriors vs Mavericks Preview: Golden State seeks to avenge a loss and maintain its streak of domination

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The Mavericks beat the Curry-less Warriors in Dallas last month, but with the reigning MVP and Coach Steve Kerr back in action the Dubs seek to continue a streak of double-digit victories over playoff-caliber teams. Will the Warriors show the same level of motivation in taking on Dallas that they showed in the blowouts of Cleveland and San Antonio?

Stephen Curry gets his first shot at the Dallas Mavericks this season on Wednesday night.
Stephen Curry gets his first shot at the Dallas Mavericks this season on Wednesday night.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Matchup
Golden State Warriors
41-4 (21-0 HOME)
vs
Dallas Mavericks
26-21 (13-13 ROAD)
Details
January 27, 2016
Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
7:30pm PDT
ESPN, CSN Bay Area | KNBR 680 AM
Blog Buddy: Mavs Moneyball
Projected Starters
Stephen Curry G Deron Williams
Klay Thompson G Wesley Matthews
Harrison Barnes F Chandler Parsons
Draymond Green F Dirk Nowitzki
Andrew Bogut C Salah Mejri
Key Injuries
James Michael McAdoo - Toe

Zaza Pachulia - Leg, Achilles

Dirk Nowitzki - Knee, Old

★★★

An Issue of Motivation

There isn't a team anywhere on the planet that wants to visit Oracle Arena this week. Golden State has hit its stride, most recently defeating Cleveland, Indiana, Chicago, and San Antonio by totals of 34, 31, 12, and 30, respectively, over the span of eight days and looking invincible in the process. It begs the question: are the Warriors crushing fools because they're particularly motivated for games against the league's top teams or are they suddenly jelling to the point where we should expect blowouts every night? It's probably some of both, but tonight's game could provide some insight into the motivation issue. Will the Dubs put out the same effort tonight as on Monday?

You may recall that the Warriors were trounced in Detroit just five games ago. It's not inconceivable they were more interested in getting to Cleveland two days later than they were in playing a Pistons team in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings. Even in last year's playoffs, it seemed that the Warriors only played their best basketball once they felt a sense of urgency: winning three straight games after falling behind two games to one in the series against both Cleveland and Memphis, not to mention the ridiculous fourth quarter comeback to win in overtime against New Orleans. It was just over a year ago that Stephen Curry talked about "the challenge of not getting bored with winning," a concern that could become the greatest hindrance to the team's pursuit of over 72 wins in this regular season. Of course, if that's the biggest consequence, things could be a lot worse...

Yes, the Mavericks defeated the Curry-less Warriors handily in December, perhaps fueling a desire for payback as the Dubs take a turn as the host. And the Warriors take the responsibility of defending their home court very seriously, which could also provide some motivation to take the Mavs to task. But it's probably more realistic that they won't be as up for this game as they were for the Spurs game on Monday and it will be interesting to see how that shows in their play tonight.

One important factor in this discussion is Steve Kerr's return to the bench. Can Kerr energize the team in a way that keeps the players focused for the mid-level teams or even the basement dwellers in the league? It could be that Kerr's return will bring with it a greater sense of accountability among the players to stay within the team's system and limit senseless turnovers that plagued the team prior to the current four-game win streak. A home game versus a short-handed Mavericks team could provide some insight into Kerr's influence as the Warriors try to avoid playing down to the level of their opponent.

What to Expect from the Mavericks

Averaging nearly 20 points per game at the age of 82 37, Dirk Nowitzki leads the Dallas offense. However, it wouldn't come as a big surprise if the Mavs decide to rest Dirk Nowitzki tonight on the second night of a back-to-back. If Dirk does play, the small ball death squad could have a field day flying past him on offense. But the Mavs are using a small ball lineup of their own these days, so we could be set for some fast paced play at times tonight! Meanwhile, Wesley Matthews and J.J. Barea deserve a lot of credit for the Mavs' victory over the Warriors last month, as they combined to shoot eight for eleven behind the arc that night. I wouldn't expect them to maintain that high of a shooting percentage tonight, but they've proven that they deserve the respect of the Warriors' defense. Chandler Parsons has been playing well as of late and there's been a Deron Williams sighting in Dallas this year, surprising many. And speaking of surprises, Zaza Pachulia was nearly an All-Star Game starter (thanks, Kobe...) but is doubtful for this contest while battling issues with first a sore leg and now his Achilles. That means that we can expect to see a lot of Salah Mejri, who stands over seven feet tall, defends well enough to block the shots of the All-Star teammates from Oklahoma City, and recorded a double-double against the Rockets in his first career start on Sunday. We'll see how he fares against the speed of the Warriors!