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Warriors vs. Mavs Preview: What to make of Dallas?

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The Mavs should be good, but they’re not. Can Golden State win?

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Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

Games between the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks are worth circling on the calendar. It’s a battle between Steph Curry and Luka Dončić, two of the league’s most entertaining players, who have some stylistic similarities.

But the Warriors are decidedly mediocre and injured, and the Mavs are struggling something fierce while being below average on both ends of the court, a year after setting an NBA record for offensive efficiency.

It’s weird. So let’s do a baseball series.

The deets

Who: Golden State Warriors (11-10) vs. Dallas Mavericks (9-13)

When: 4:30 p.m. PT

Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

TV: TNT (available through fuboTV)

Projected starting lineups:

Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Juan Toscano-Anderson (maybe?), Draymond Green
Mavs: Luka Dončić, Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Kristaps Porzingis

Last results:

Warriors: Lost to the Celtics 111-107 — 3-2 in their last 5 games
Mavs: Beat the Hawks 122-116 — 1-4 in their last 5 games

Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass):

Warriors: 108.3 offense (22nd), 110.5 defense (11th), -2.2 net (20th)
Mavs: 111.4 offense (17th), 113.0 defense (23rd), -1.6 net (16th)

The story

The Mavs were supposed to be in the news this year for Dončić’s MVP campaign and their step towards contention. Instead, the only good press they’re getting lately is from owner Mark Cuban, for his thoughts on the battle between Reddit and Wall Street.

As for the Warriors? Well, no one was sure what to make of them before the season, and no one is sure after 21 games, either.

Are the Mavs a team that the Warriors should beat, given their record? Or are they a barometer game, given the talent on Dallas’ roster? Both teams feel like unknowns going into this game, which makes it pretty difficult to draw any conclusions.

Players to watch

Warrior(s) to watch: Juan Toscano-Anderson and Kent Bazemore.

With all of the Warriors centers sidelined by injuries, it’s safe to say that Toscano-Anderson and Bazemore are going to see an increase in playing time, and be given the less than fun task of moving up a position to defend 4s.

They don’t need to be great, as Toscano-Anderson was on Tuesday. But they need to hold their own, by playing strong defense, making smart decisions, and knocking down open shots.

Maverick to watch: Luka Dončić.

Dončić was the most popular preseason MVP pick, but he’s taken a little bit of a step back this season. Mind you, “taken a little bit of a step back” still means averaging 27.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 9.4 assists per game, but he’s shooting just 29.3% from beyond the arc, getting to the line less frequently, and hurting the Mavs defense by frequently complaining about said infrequency at the line.

He’s still one of the top players in the league, but he’s had some stinkers this year.

Matchup to watch: Draymond Green vs. Kristaps Porzingis.

As I mentioned yesterday, Kevon Looney’s injury, while certainly a blow, came at the best possible time. Porzingis likes to play on the perimeter, despite being 7’3”. If Green (and, to a lesser extent, Eric Paschall) can get down the court and take advantage of his larger opponent, the Warriors will be in the driver seat.

Keys to victory

  • Make being the smaller team an advantage
  • Steph Curry beat Luka Dončić in the MVP contender battle
  • Survive on the glass despite not having any healthy centers
  • At least 5 three-pointers from the bench wings

Get back in the win column, Dubs.