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Dallas Mavericks look for win over dysfunctional Wizards

Dallas Mavericks Dennis Smith Jr. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dallas Mavericks Dennis Smith Jr. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Dallas Mavericks take on the Washington Wizards tonight at 7:30 p.m. CST. Here’s some things to look for as you watch.

Can we all agree to just forget about Friday night against the Knicks? I’m just going to pretend that never happened. Luckily for the spiraling Dallas Mavericks, the train wreck that is the Wizards are in town. A team with playoff aspirations to start the season, Washington, comes into Dallas with a 2-7 record.

The Mavericks should have a good chance against a struggling team like the Wizards, but the Knicks were 2-6 when they rolled into Dallas, so who knows how this will go. Oops, sorry, I forgot we all agreed not to talk about that Knicks game.

So what do the Mavericks need to do to pull out a victory? Well, for one thing, they could try to stop the Wizards from scoring. I know that sounds simple, but so far this season, the Mavericks haven’t really made it hard for opponents to put the ball through the hoop.

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The Wizards are only shooting 32 percent from behind the arc on the season, about league average, so if the Mavericks can play tight on the perimeter they might not give up a thousand 3-pointers. Dallas is currently allowing opponents’ to shoot 45 percent from deep, worst in the NBA.

The Cavaliers are the next worse team, allowing opponents to shoot 41 percent from three. That’s how bad the Mavs have been at defending 3-pointers. It’s the biggest problem they have right now.

The Mavericks will need to take better care of the ball. Dallas is turning the ball over almost 17 times per game. The Wizards have been bad this year, but they’re ranked seventh in the league in points off turnovers, averaging 19.8 points per game when opponents give away the ball. The Mavericks will need to be especially careful to avoid live-ball turnovers, as Washington is fifth in the NBA in fast break points.

Expect to see Dennis Smith Jr. matched up against John Wall. Smith will have to use every ounce of his elite athleticism to contain the speedy Wall. Wes Matthews will have his hands full with Bradley Beal, one of the few Wizards shooting well from deep. If Smith and Matthews can keep the Washington back court in check, the Mavs will have a good shot at winning the game.

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The Mavericks need this game. They’ve lost six in a row, and four of the next five games are against almost guaranteed Western Conference playoff teams like Utah, Golden State, and Oklahoma City. Maybe the Mavs’ brutal travel schedule led to the debacle on Friday night. Hopefully they’ll be better rested after almost a week at home.

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