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Warriors vs. Mavericks preview: It’s reunion time

Barnes! Bogut! That other Curry! All your favorites come back to town to face the Warriors.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information

Golden State Warriors (28-5) vs. Dallas Mavericks (9-23)

How to watch

Date: Friday December 30, 2016

Location: Oracle Arena - Oakland, CA

Time: 7:30pm PST

TV: CSN Bay Area Radio: 95.7 THE GAME

Team Comparison

The Warriors... pulled out a victory in the face of another possible late letdown against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night in Oracle. Steve Kerr set the tone early in the game. No silly mistakes would be tolerated — as seen by Kerr’s use of timeouts immediately after any series of bad passes.

Despite charging to an early lead, the Warriors still had to work to stay ahead of a very good Toronto team, reminding the squad that the NBA elite will take advantage of lazy play. Golden State still finds themselves in the middle of a run of imperfect basketball, winning games on talent alone while struggling to find consistency for a full 48 minutes.

They are still at the top of the league statistically and in overall record. Their issues seem attached to mental focus and a tendency to hand the ball to their opponents while trying to make the risky highlight play. The team that we have so much fun watching tends to have a bit too much fun at times, which can lead to layups for their opponents.

For the next few games, Golden State will get the benefit of some home cooking to work out the kinks as this will be the second game of a five-game home stand. The team has played a particularly grueling schedule so far — with 18 of 34 games on the road.

After tough match-ups against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors, the Warriors have a softer schedule, facing the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trailblazers. Could this help to promote more consistent habits from the team?

The Mavericks... are in the middle of a tough year. They are tied with the Phoenix Suns for the worst record in the Western Conference. But the Mavericks have arguably been one of the unluckiest teams in terms of injuries, losing key players like Dirk Nowitzki and Andrew Bogut for extended periods of time. Since their stars have returned, the Mavericks have begun to win more games.

They don’t do anything particularly well and they’re at the bottom of the league in offense, pace and points scored. But they do have talent and have defeated quality teams like the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Clippers.

Over the last 17 games, they are 7-10, which has been a huge improvement from the prolonged losing streaks they saw to start the year.

While Dallas has not been a great team, they do hold a very special place in the heart of Warriors fans because of ex-Warriors Bogut and Harrison Barnes. Barnes has been particularly impressive this year, scoring over 20 points per game with a 49.3 Effective Field Goal Percentage.

The Mavericks have Nowitzki back from injury, giving them a second elite scorer to take the pressure off Barnes. Their starting lineup looks fantastic on paper and they have a young bench that got playing time and experience while the team leaders healed up.

Dallas should not be taken lightly now that they feature their star talent, but it remains a question if this is enough to stand up to the league elite like Golden State. Basketball is all about team chemistry, which Dallas is still looking to find with so many moving parts coming in and out of the lineup. The Warriors abuse teams that do not show defensive discipline, and it’s unclear whether Dallas can slow them down.

The Matchup

Their first matchup of the year at Oracle ended 116-95 as the Warriors beat up on a skeleton Dallas squad. The game looked like a blowout at halftime, but the Mavericks had a great third quarter, making it a competitive game.

The Warriors coughed up 22 turnovers, tarnishing an otherwise fantastic shooting night (58% from the field). Kevin Durant led the way with 28 points, as Dallas simply couldn’t guard the big man. Now that the Mavericks have Bogut and Wes Matthews to counter the Warriors’ stars, can they make this game more competitive?

I still think this game is going to be a blowout for the home team. Golden State needs to work on running an efficient offense and reducing mistakes, two challenges I believe they can address against the struggling Mavericks. I predict the Warriors will win this game 125-101 with little work for the starters in the 4th.