The Mavericks enter the week coming off one of their most impressive wins of the 2013-14 season. Dallas trounced Oklahoma City on their home court and won by a score of 109-86 on Sunday. This win was vital to a Dallas team looking to prove to themselves and the rest of the NBA that they can hang with the top teams in the Western Conference.
Dallas will enter the week in the No. 7 spot with a record of 40-27. Despite losing 108-85 at Golden State on March 11, the Mavericks are now only 1.5 games behind the Warriors for the No. 6 spot in the Western Conference.
The Mavericks return home on Monday, March 17 where they will begin an eight-game homestand. The homestand comes at a great time for the Mavericks, but the level of competition takes a significant jump once the rebounding Celtics leave town. Let’s see what await the Mavericks at home this week.
Monday, March 17 vs. Boston Celtics
Despite the return of Rajon Rondo, the Celtics continue to lose basketball games. Such are the breaks when you are rebuilding. The Celtics are rebuilding the right way, but they are in the infant stages of what could be a two or three year process.
The Celtics come into the week with a record of 22-45 and they have won only three of their last 14 games. Boston is led by the aforementioned Rondo, along with forwards Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger. Sullinger was a first-round pick in 2012 and he has drastically improved his play during his second year in the league.
Boston and Dallas will both be playing their second game of a back-to-back but Dallas will have the benefit of playing on their home court. The Celtics matchup is sandwiched between games against stronger opponents but Dallas cannot afford to overlook anyone with the playoffs on the line.
Wednesday, March 19 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves upgraded their roster in the offseason and they had high hopes when the season began. The Timberwolves were even picked by many experts to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. Minnesota has been a solid team in 2013-14, but it takes more than solid to contend out West.
Minnesota has struggled defensively, allowing opponents to score an average of 102.5 points per game. Starting center Nikola Pekovic has recently been bothered by an ankle injury which has not helped matters.
The Timberwolves may struggle defensively, but they are extremely dangerous on offense. Only four teams in the NBA score more points per game than Minnesota. Stopping the Timberwolves attack means the Mavericks will have to contain Kevin Love and Kevin Martin. Love has averaged 30 points against the Mavericks this season while Martin has averaged 26 points per game in their three previous matchups.
Expect an entertaining, back-and-forth game when these two talented offensive teams meet for the fourth time. Minnesota enters the week with a record of 33-32.
Friday, March 21 vs. Denver Nuggets
Forget about the Nuggets 29-37 record or the injuries that have Danilo Gallinari, JaVale McGee and Nate Robinson on the shelf. This fast, athletic Denver team is an incredibly tough matchup for the Mavericks. The Mavericks will be looking to avoid a season sweep by the Nuggets, who are 3-0 against the Mavericks this season.
The Nuggets level of play has improved with point guard Ty Lawson rejoining the team after missing nine games with a rib injury. Denver may be 12 games under .500, but teams that overlook them are paying the price. The Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat 111-107 at the American Airlines Arena on March 14.
The Nuggets scored 41 points in the first quarter in their previous matchup against the Mavericks on March 5. Dallas struggled to contain Ty Lawson and forwards Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler and J.J. Hickson. The Mavericks will have to improve their team defense to avoid losing their fourth game of the season against the Nuggets.
Sunday, March 23 vs. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets come into the week with a record of 33-31 and they are playing their best basketball of the season. Brooklyn has won seven of their last nine games and they are coming together at the right time.
The Nets made a lot of noise in the offseason when they added Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko to talented team that made the playoffs the previous year. Brooklyn also turned the coaching reigns over to Jason Kidd, who is handling head coaching duties for the first time.
The immediate results were borderline disastrous for the Nets as they won only seven of their first twenty games, but they have gradually evolved into a dangerous team in the Eastern Conference.
The Nets offense gives the Mavericks defense a number of matchup issues on the court. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are an explosive one-two punch in the backcourt. Pay too much attention to Williams and Johnson, and the ball may find its way to Mirza Teletovic. Dallas learned what happens when you leave the sharpshooting big man open earlier this season. Teletovic torched the Mavericks for 34 points on Jan. 24 in a tightly contested 107-106 Nets win.
It’s unfortunate the Mavericks did not catch the Nets during the first month of the season, because this version is a formidable opponent. Like their first matchup, expect another tight game that comes down the wire.
Tags: Dallas Mavericks