Dallas Mavericks: Pelicans present an important test for Mavs

Dallas Mavericks Luka Doncic Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)
Dallas Mavericks Luka Doncic Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Dallas Mavericks take on the New Orleans Pelicans tonight in New Orleans. Dallas won the first meeting in a relatively close game in which Luka Doncic recorded his first triple-double of the season.

Coming off the biggest win of the season so far, the Dallas Mavericks are now presented with a struggling New Orleans Pelicans team on a five-game losing streak. The Pelicans only have six wins so far, but five of those six are against Western Conference teams and three of them are against current top eight teams.

The Pelicans have scored the ball a lot so far this season. They are currently averaging the seventh most points per game in the league at 114.5. Their offensive rating drops down to 14th, however, as they are one of the faster paced teams in the league. On the defensive side, the Pelicans are allowing the third most points per game at 118.9 and are giving up 113.5 points per 100 possessions.

By contrast, the Mavs have the most efficient offense in the league and in league history so far, averaging 117 points per 100 possessions. The defense is middle of the pack for Dallas, which isn’t too bad. Obviously the strength of the team revolves around the offense.

The Pelicans may not have a great record, but they are a talented squad, which is why I worried this may be a bit of a trap game for Dallas. Between the skill level, the fact that they have beaten top teams in the West and the Mavs coming off the best win of their season, things could go wrong.

The key to this game is going to be Tim Hardaway Jr. Ever since he got thrown into the starting lineup, this has been a different team, and the Mavericks will need his offensive production tonight to keep the Pelicans at bay while Brandon Ingram and Jrue Holiday look to put some big points on the board.

Last time the Mavs played New Orleans, Ingram dropped 25. Look for Dorian Finney-Smith and Hardaway to try and limit the number of looks Ingram gets tonight, but keep an eye out for Holiday who is arguably their best player.

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The Mavs and Pelicans tip-off at 6:30pm central time and will play their game on national television with TNT picking up the coverage. Even though this game was supposed to be all about Luka Doncic vs. Zion Williamson, it should still be an entertaining one.