Dallas Mavericks Game 3 preview vs. Chicago Bulls

Dallas Mavericks Harrison Barnes Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dallas Mavericks Harrison Barnes Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images) /

After a thriller Saturday night, the Dallas Mavericks welcome the Chicago Bulls to the American Airlines Center. Here are some keys to that game.

The Dallas Mavericks host the Chicago Bulls in game three of their regular season.  The Mavs offense was clicking on Saturday night, running up 140 points. That’s great, except they almost lost because they gave up 136 points.

Their season-opener against Phoenix wasn’t much better, as the Mavericks allowed 121 points in the desert. Clearly, something has to change on defense.

Barnes back?

Maybe that change will be the return of Harrison Barnes. He has been nursing a hamstring injury since training camp and has not played this season. Dwain Price of Mavs.com reported that Barnes practiced Friday and Saturday and that the Mavericks are hopeful he’ll play against the Bulls.

Barnes would help shore up a faltering Mavericks’ perimeter defense. Dallas has given up 33 3-pointers on 61 attempts. That’s an astonishing 54 percent. Barnes’ return will help with that. He’s long and has a great defensive I.Q., so he’ll help the Mavs cool off opponents behind the arc.

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A look at the Bulls

If Barnes can play, it’ll go a long way to helping the Mavs win against the Bulls.

Chicago is only shooting 33 percent as a team from behind the arc, but they have some capable shooters on the roster. Bobby Portis, Justin Holiday, and Jabari Parker are all league-average 3-point shooters, but they can get hot. Zach LaVine is above-average from deep for his career, though he is struggling this season.

Lauri Markkanen is out an elbow injury, so Rick Carlisle won’t have to deal with the match-up nightmare he presents.

The Bulls are “only” scoring 112 points per game. If the Mavericks can carry over their offensive performance from Saturday night, and play a little defense, they should be able to walk away from the AAC with a victory. But if they continue to play undisciplined defense, they’ll allow an average 3-point shooting team like the Bulls to look like the Golden State Warriors. The Mavericks can’t count on scoring 140 points every night. At some point, they’ll have to defend.

Final thoughts

Tune in to watch the Mavericks at 7:30 p.m. CT, or better yet, make your way down to the American Airlines Center and catch Luka Doncic, Dennis Smith Jr., and all your other favorite Mavs in person.

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Please, come back to The Smoking Cuban after the game for a recap of the night’s action.