Dallas Mavericks game previews between November 14 and November 20, including games against: Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic.
The 2-6 Mavericks play four games this week, three of which are road games against Eastern Conference teams. This week is a great opportunity to pick up some wins and right the ship, but Dallas is still struggling to get and stay healthy. Deron Williams suffered a setback with his calf strain, but could be available to play by Wednesday’s game versus Boston. Dirk Nowitzki sat out the last three games with soreness in his achilles, but looks to be a game-time call against the Knicks on Monday. Wesley Matthews is not on the injury list, but until his sickly FG% sees improvement, the offense will continue to struggle.
New York Knicks
Monday, 14 November 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Away
The Knicks will host Dallas in Madison Square Garden in a game Mavericks fans want to see end with a W. While Dallas has struggled with injuries, the Knicks have (thus far) defied expectations and have been at full strength. Unfortunately for New York fans, the team’s health makes the 3-6 start to the season, with five of those losses being by 9 or more points, tough to stomach. The Knicks are still getting star production from Carmelo Anthony and last year’s breakout rookie Kristaps Porzingis is putting out a strong sophomore effort so far. Bulls transplants Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have been productive (though at a very modest and not “super” level) so far in their Knicks tenure.
The Knicks have struggled to defend against faster perimeter players, which bodes well for the Mavs offense when worked through Harrison Barnes and Wes Matthews. JJ Barea (who is continuing to shine) and Seth Curry could also benefit from the Knicks’ defensive woes by driving into the paint and looking for contact. On offense Melo and Porzingis will challenge the Mavs; even if he is healthy, I would expect Dirk to see fewer minutes due to how Porzingis stretches the floor. Bogut will likely make his defensive presence felt in short minutes as needed. Additionally, Rick Carlisle may try to use youth and athleticism (Dwight Powell and Justin Anderson) to pressure the Knicks on both sides of the ball; doing this would stay true to his recent comment that he needs to find minutes to give Powell and Anderson.
Wednesday, 16 November 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Away
The TD Garden in Boston will not be a friendly place for the Mavericks on Wednesday. The Celtics will be Dallas’s toughest opponent this week and they may return to full health just in time to squash any hope of stealing a road game. Former Maverick Jae Crowder is reportedly “targeting” a November 16th return from his recent ankle sprain, though it is unlikely he will be healthy enough to play in a revenge game. Newly signed Celtic Al Horford will likely return from his concussion by Wednesday, if not before. At full health, Boston will be a serious test for the Mavericks. The Celtics are a versatile team that defends tough, moves the ball, and has evolved a number of different options for scoring.
The Mavericks may need to dive deep into the well of sports cliches and focus on execution. Boston can and will capitalize on any mistakes from careless turnovers or errors on defense. Dallas will need to contain Isaiah Thomas and defend without fouling (looking at you Seth Curry) to keep him off the line. Defense from Matthews, Barnes, and Bogut will be key to this game; if they can get stops and disrupt the Celtics offense early, the Mavs will be in better position to dictate pace and tone. Other things to watch: will Wes Matthews’ shooting percentage begin its regression to the norm (yes please); how does Al Horford fit at center and with his new teammates; what defensive schemes will Carlisle throw at Horford; and does Jae Crowder get to suit up for a revenge game?
Friday, 18 November 2016 at 08:30 PM ET Home
On Friday, the Mavericks return home to the American Airlines Center to host their only matchup with a Western Conference team this week. The Memphis Grizzlies have shed most of their Grit-n-Grind identity and are running a more modern pace and space style offense; however, the adjustment period can be rough and the Grizzlies currently sport a 4-5 record. Marc Gasol is playing and his recovery from a broken bone in his foot appears to be going well, and Mike Conley is playing through a lingering hamstring injury. This is generally good news for Memphis considering when Gasol and Conley sat out on November 1, Memphis got blown out by the Timberwolves. The good news for the Mavericks though: Friday’s game against Dallas is the first game of a back-to-back, so there’s a good chance that the Grizzlies will opt to rest Gasol and/or Conley so that the team is a full strength when they play a revenge game against the Timberwolves on Saturday.
Memphis identified itself with defense through the Grit-n-Grind era, but with new coach Fizdale, a new offense, and a lot of young, newly acquired players, Memphis is not the same team. Gasol still anchors their defense and can cover some mistakes, but he can’t do it all (and he may not play). Dallas needs penetration and passing to pressure the defense into making mistakes that can be exploited. The starting unit as a whole probably can’t match the speed and athleticism of the Grizzlies, but with the Mavs will find ways to get open shots and drives to the rim. If this game stays close, Rick Carlisle will play the veterans heavier minutes down the stretch and young players (like Powell) would see the floor only as the situation calls for them. Expect good things from Harrison Barnes and JJ Barea (assuming no or limited Deron Williams). If Dirk is healthy enough for big minutes, he should have one of his best games of the young season.
Saturday, 19 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Away
Dallas travels to Orlando for the second game of a back-to-back. The Magic are still somewhat of a mess, but they hold a 4-6 record, which includes a road win over the Thunder, and cannot be dismissed out-of-hand as an easy win. Orlando is young and working to become a defense-oriented team under new coach Frank Vogel. They are continuing to develop their young players and added Serge Ibaka in an offseason trade that sent Victor Oladipo to Oklahoma City. Aaron Gordon and Evan Don’t Google Fournier have continued to improve and are seeing more playing time as a result. Elfrid Payton’s turnovers are down, but he struggles to score for himself and sometimes in getting the ball to a teammate in the rhythm of the offense.
For Dallas, the key will be to defend against drives by Payton and Nikola Vucevic working the post and scooping up offensive rebounds. Orlando’s three-point shooting has improved, but is still shaky enough that the Mavs can play off them to crowd the paint and stifle scoring opportunities. The Mavs will need to work on offense, but as the Magic are still working into their defense and help schemes, Dallas should be able to get the looks they want. If Dallas can crack open a big lead, the bench could see big minutes to close out the game. And heads up for fantasy purposes: Saturday’s game is the second game of a back-to-back set. Check to see if Dirk or any other Mavericks get rested in Orlando prior to tip-off.