It wasn’t all that long ago that the Golden State Warriors were taking flak from other teams for tanking in order to retain the draft pick that eventually brought us Harrison Barnes. Now the tables have completely turned and Barnes finds himself as a core piece of a Dallas Mavericks team that is finding more success tanking for sweet draft picks than they are at winning ballgames.
Sadly for all of us watching, we are yet again deprived of seeing the Curry brothers go up against each other on the court. With both of them dealing with leg injuries, the game will be just a little bit less fun.
WHO: Warriors vs. Mavericks
WHEN: Thursday, December 14
WHERE: 7:30 p.m.Oracle Arena
RADIO: 95.7 The Game
Steph Curry is still out with that sprained ankle and not due back any time soon. On top of that, we’ve got Zaza Pachulia and Draymond Green both dealing with sore shoulders; and Nick Young has taken Pat McCaw’s spot on the IR with a concussion.
Warriors: Draymond Green (right shoulder soreness), Zaza Pachulia (left shoulder soreness) and Nick Young (concussion) are doubtful.
Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle) is out. Damian Jones is on G League assignment. Team Notes
Mavericks: Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia), Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis), Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury), Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) and Dennis Smith Jr. (left hip strain) are out. Team Notes
The Mavs are struggling
Although they managed to beat the Spurs in their most recent game, the Mavs are not having a good season. Sitting in dead last in the Western, their 8-20 record has them below even the lowly rebuilding Suns and Kings.
It’s not entirely their fault - as is often the case with these things. Injuries have claimed a huge chuck of their rotation and without enough depth to cover for it, the loss of Nerlens Noel, Seth Curry and their first round pick Dennis Smith Jr. has been enough to turn them from an okay team into the worst in the West.
Without their depth, the Mavs will be putting the ball in the hands of JJ Barea and Yogi Farrell...and hope.
Our old pal Harrison Barnes is playing fairly well for his new team. He leads the team in both points (18.4) and rebounds (7.4) per game and should get a nice warm welcome back to the Bay.
The Warriors aren’t struggling, but they aren't exactly setting the world on fire either
Why does it feel like the Warriors are more than a half game behind the Houston Rockets? Maybe it’s just me, but for whatever reason, the team has seemed less dominant this year than at any time in the Kerr era.
On the other hand, they’ve peeled off seven straight wins coming into this game and have been surviving the absence of the team's main protagonist just fine. Without Steph Curry, the Warriors seem to realize they have less margin for error, and Kevin Durant in particular has stepped up his game.
Keys to the game
On paper (and probably on the court) this matchup doesn’t look like it will be especially close, but here are a few factors that could swing the game in one direction or another:
1.) Turnovers - stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
The Mavs aren’t especially adept at forcing turnovers (17th in the league), but they are excellent at taking care of the ball on offense (ranked 3rd). If the Warriors decide to toss a bunch of stupid turnovers the Mavs’ way, it may be hard to make those possessions back up.
The Mavs weren’t an especially deep team to start. Now that they are running so deep in their rotation, it could be a prime game for our bench to outplay theirs.
As soon as I get around to it, I need to run a stats article on David West’s season. He has been an absolute beast. Offensively, he’s turned into the stretch Center that we’ve all dreamed about. As Anthony Slater tweeted out the other day, West is shooting an insane 60% on jump shots beyond 10 feet. Overall, West is shooting better than he has at any point in his career - as evidenced by his .682 TS%, well over his career average of .543.
3.) Fouls and free throws
The Warriors rank 18th in free throws attempted per game and somewhere near the top in foul complaints per call (no Green, it is not always “AND1”). If the Mavs manage to slow this game into their preferred glacial pace, the Warriors will need to do a good job of getting to the line and making the other team pay for fouling us.