Preview: The Dallas Mavericks, currently a half-game out of postseason play, need a win badly. Can they get one in Sacramento against the Kings?
The Dallas Mavericks could really use a win.
As losers of nine of their last 11 games, the Mavs are in serious danger of missing the postseason. And with only 10 games left on the schedule, a match up against the Sacramento Kings is about as “easy” as it gets for Dallas. The Kings, though 28-44 on the season, have given the Mavericks quite a bit of trouble this year. They’re 2-1 against the Mavs, and Dallas’ lone victory came by a single point in double-overtime.
Things aren’t going well for the Mavericks at the moment, but a win would at least move them into a tie with the Utah Jazz, who have Easter off, and put the team’s destiny back into their hands.
Here are some players to watch, and numbers to know.
Players to Watch
With Chandler Parsons (knee) and Deron Williams (abdominal injury) both out of the lineup, the Mavericks need scoring from Wesley Matthews more than ever. Luckily, the team’s highest-paid player has been in a little bit of a groove recently. Matthews has scored in double-digits for three straight games, a feat he has matched or exceeded only five other times this season. In his last three games, Matthews has averaged 21 points on 51% FG shooting and 61% accuracy from long range.
The Mavericks will need another big game from Matthews to leave northern California with a win.
Who else but Sacramento’s best player, and maybe the best center in the NBA? DeMarcus Cousins has been a headache for everyone in the league, including his own team at times, but the 25-year old big man has been especially troublesome for the Mavericks.
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In three games against Dallas this season, Cousins has averaged 29.3 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists on 47.9% shooting.
As Cousins goes, so do the Kings. He shoots nearly 50% in wins, but 42% in losses. Keeping him somewhat in check will be tough, and it will be interesting to see how Rick Carlisle will play him. Salah Mejri has been starting in the middle for the Mavericks lately, but the physicality of Cousins will be an issue for the slight-framed rookie.
Numbers to Know
Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t seen game action since March 23rd after sitting out the game in Oakland. He’s rested, so he should play well, right? Not so fast. On the three occasions this season Dirk has played after 3+ days of rest, he’s shot 37.5% from the field. It’s a small sample size, but a poor shooting night from Dirk almost certainly means a loss for the Mavericks.
The Sacramento Kings are not a good defensive ball club. They allow the most three-point attempts, and makes per game. They don’t block shots. Opponents move the ball with ease against them. All of that has contributed to the Kings giving up a league-worst 109.0 points a game in 2015-16. The Mavericks should get their chances against the poor Kings defense, they just need to convert them.