The Dallas Mavericks (35-24), losers of two straight, look to get back to their winning ways against the injury riddled Denver Nuggets (25-34) Wednesday at 7 PM CT on ESPN.
This isn’t the same Nuggets team that swept the Mavericks during home-and-home series back in late November.
He’s Back: The Nuggets have been bombarded with injuries throughout the season. They’ve lost Nate Robinson, JaVale McGee, and Danillo Galinari for the season. Ty Lawson’s return Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves was huge for the team. The Mavericks will have their hands full with the speedy guard, who didn’t seem to miss a beat as he finished with 31 points and 11 assists after missing close to a month with a rib injury. Lawson has averaged 19.5 points and 10 assists against the Mavericks this season.
6th Man Candidate: Vince Carter has turned back the clock over the last five games. He’s tied with Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki for the team lead in points with 18.8 per game during the stretch. His hot 3-pt shooting has been a big reason for his scoring outburst, as he’s been shooting 51.4% from 3. Since November carter has seen his scoring numbers increase by the month. If this trend continue, Carter may be a serious candidate for the award.
Losing Streaks: The Mavericks currently boast a two game losing streak after falling to the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs, but this is nothing in comparison to what the Nuggets have endured. The Nuggets are coming in losing 6 straight and 11 of their last 12 games.
Must Win: This is a game the Mavericks desperately need to win. Two straight losses and with the Portland Trail Blazers, Indiana Pacers, and Golden State Warriors up next on the schedule, the Mavericks can easily find themselves out of the top eight in the West very soon.
Big Men: The Mavericks bigs didn’t put up a great fight against the Spurs on Sunday. If that effort continues, expect Kenneth Faried, J.J. Hickson, and Timofy Mozgov to have big nights. The Nuggets will rely on Lawson, Foye, and Wilson Chandler on the perimeter, but if the Nuggets’ bigs get involved, the Mavericks will have a long night.
50-40-90 No More?: Nowitzki has hovered around the 50-40-90 all season. His recent cold shooting from 3, where he’s gone 4-22 over the last five games, now has him at 49.4-39.5.-91.4. Nowitzki is capable of hot stretches and with the scheduling winding down and toughening up, the Mavericks will need their franchise player to lead them to the playoffs.
There is no doubt that this is a game the Mavericks need to win, with the Memphis Grizzlies itching to get into the top eight, the Mavericks can’t afford to give a loss away to a team out of contention.