January 1, 2014 @ 5pm CT
The Dallas Mavericks (18-13) travel to face the Washington Wizards (14-14) to open the New Year.
The Mavericks ended 2013 on a two game win streak after dominating the injury-plagued Chicago Bulls and holding on to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves behind Shawn Marion’s 32 points.
The Mavericks will look to continue their winning ways on the road as they’ve won three straight coming into the game.
With a win the Mavericks will sweep both their three game road trip and the season series with the Wizards.
The Wizards will enjoy playing at home (7-7), as they’ve played 5 of their last 6 on the road. Through that stretch they have gone 5-1, and are currently on a two game win streak, with both wins coming over the Detroit Pistons. John Wall put up 20 and 29 points during those games.
The Wizards average 99.6 points per game while they give up 100 points. During their last 6 games they’ve seen their scoring jump to 105.2 points per game.
John Wall is having a career year as he’s third in steals (2.1) and assists (9.0) per game to go along with his 20.2 points per game. With injuries to Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo, Wall has built a legitimate case to be an Easter Conference All-Star this season.
Second Year guard Bradley Beal after starting the season off slowly has really turned it on. On the season he’s putting up 18.7 points per game while shooting 46% from 3pt range. Beal though has seen his scoring decrease through the last 5 games (13.2pts) due to a knee injury.
Washington is 4th in the NBA in 3pt shooting (39.4%), thanks to Beal, Trevor Ariza (43.3%), and Martel Webster (41.3%).
Nene, who now comes off the bench has help stabilize their second unit that was averaging just under 23 points per game.. During the five games he’s not started he’s put up 12.2 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.
One time Mav target, Marcin Gortat has been steady for them at the center position as he’s averaging 12.6 points and 8.7 rebounds.
Ariza and Webster have stabilized the small forward position as they combine to score 29.9 points to go along with their defense and 3pt shooting.
The Wizards are just 2-6 vs the West.
This seems repetitive, but the NBA is full of great point guards, and Wall is no exception to that. In the first meeting Wall had just 14 points but dished out 10 assists. Even though Wall has improved his jumpshot this season, they Mavericks must keep him out of the paint. As we’ve seen, he has the ability to both finish and create for his teammates.
Ariza (27p pts) connected on 5 3′s in the first meeting (5-11) and Webster added 2 of his own (2-5). The Mavericks must not allow these two along with Beal to get going from the perimeter. Whether it’s the defense helping on the post ups or on Wall’s drives, the Mavericks must find a way to contest those three from the perimeter.
It would be to no surprise to see Samuel Dalembert get the start again after having a decent performance against the Wolves. Dalembert must stay out of foul trouble, which is something he’s struggled with the last two games. Gortat and Nene combined for 26 points on 9-18 shooting. It will be huge if the Mavericks’ bigs can guard these two one on one without relying on help.
Shawn Marion scored his Mavericks career high against the Wolves when he dropped in 32 points to go with his game winning strip on Kevin Love.
With the recent All-Star balloting out, it’s safe to say that neither Dirk Nowitzki or Monta Ellis will be starters, but there is a strong chance that one of them can a make the team.
The Mavericks ended the Year 18-13, at this point last season the Mavericks were 12-19.
The Mavericks are 8-3 vs the east.
Against the Wolves, they Mavs allowed 38 points in the third quarter alone. They allowed 60 points in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th combine.
Nowitzki had 19 points and 8 rebounds, Ellis tallied 19 points and 7 assists, and 6th man Vince Carter added 16 points for the Mavericks in the first meeting with the Wizards.
For December, Nowitzki put up 22 points and just under 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
Ellis saw his scoring and shooting decrease as he put up 18 points and shot just 42.6% from the field, but saw his assists numbers go up to 6.5 a game.
Though the Wizards have won 5 of 6, this is a game the Mavericks should win.
Just as it was important for the Mavericks to end the year with a win, it’ll be just as important to start 2014 win a W.
Dal- Harris (Out-Toe)
Wash- Al Harrington (Out-Knee)