Dallas Mavericks game previews between October 31 and November 6, including games against: Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz.
The Mavericks are off to a rough 0-3 start to the season. They fell to the Pacers after forcing overtime and then dropped two games against Houston. Dallas faced the Rockets without Nowitzki for both games, as the future Hall of Famer sat out with an illness. Standout performances by Harrison Barnes on Friday and Wesley Matthews on Sunday were encouraging but ultimately not enough to bring home a win.
Wednesday, 2 November 2016 at 09:00 PM ET Away
The Mavericks travel to face the 1-2 Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Wednesday. With a two-day break from their Sunday game versus the Rockets, hopefully Dirk Nowitzki will be recovered from his illness and will travel for the game. The consolation for the Mavs is that even if Nowitzki is still unavailable, the Jazz are also not at full strength as Gordon Hayward is still out following a broken finger and Derrick Favors is coming off the bench on a minutes restriction due to recurring issues with his knee.
The Jazz are very active on defense and loaded with versatile, long defenders. The veteran Mavs will need to find ways to stretch and stress the defense to be successful. On the other side of the ball, Dallas will need to contain George Hill, who has been excellent at running the offense and creating opportunities for Utah even with Favors on limited minutes and no Hayward.
Portland Trail Blazers
Friday, 4 November 2016 at 08:30 PM ET Home
On Friday, Dallas hosts the high-octane offense of the Portland Trailblazers. Led by Damian Lillard, the Blazers have youth and ambitions of climbing into the elite of the West. With the exception of new acquisition Festus Ezeli, the Blazers are starting the season healthy. The starting backcourt of Lillard and C.J. McCollum will apply a lot of pressure to the Mavericks defense while the versatility of Portland’s wings on the other side of the ball will also present a challenge.
Expect Carlisle to continue to give big minutes to J.J. Barea off the bench, as his play thus far this season has been excellent. Lillard and McCollum are not solid defenders, though the Blazers defend well enough as a whole to cover some mistakes. The Mavericks' offense will need to find its rhythm and make the shots go down to keep pace with Portland.
Sunday, 6 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Home
Hopefully the Mavericks will earn their first win of the season against Utah or Portland, but if not, Sunday night against the Milwaukee Bucks will be their best opportunity this week. Milwaukee will travel to Dallas for the second half of a back-to-back, while the Mavericks will have a day of rest between home games. What’s more is that the Bucks are without Khris Middleton, their lead scorer from last season who is likely out until March. But the news isn’t all good for the Mavericks as the Point Giannis experiment has yielded pretty fantastic results for the Bucks.
The Bucks are young and active defenders, but there are still a lot of rough edges for a team starting 4 players with four or fewer seasons in the NBA. The Mavericks should benefit from turnovers and defending against a team that doesn’t space the floor as well as other teams faced to this point (Pacers, Rockets, Blazers). Offensively, I expect a few defensive mistakes by the Bucks to translate into buckets as well.