The Dallas Mavericks have broken out of their early-season funk to win six of their last eight games. They have a top-five offensive rating in February, but there have been defensive issues. Dallas ranks 26th in defensive rating at 118.3. They are 1.4 points per 100 possessions behind being in 25th. The defense has been ugly.
What better way to fix it than taking on the Brooklyn Nets? They are second on the season in offensive rating but lead the league since acquiring perennial MVP candidate James Harden. The Nets will be without Kevin Durant on Saturday evening as he recovers from a hamstring injury, but Brooklyn will not be lacking for offensive firepower.
How can the Mavs stop Harden and Kyrie Irving? No team has been successful so far. The Nets have won eight straight and have scored 110-plus in six of those contests. Let us take a closer look at the potential matchups and ways Dallas can be successful on Feb. 27.
How will the Dallas Mavericks try to slow down James Harden and Kyrie Irving?
Mavs fans got positive news on Friday as Kristaps Porzingis is set to return against the Nets. He will start at the five and matchup on DeAndre Jordan, which should be advantage Dallas. Defending Jordan keeps KP near the paint and should allow him plenty of opportunities to protect the rim.
The rest of the matchups will be extremely interesting. Normally, Josh Richardson guards the opposition’s primary ball-handler with Dorian Finney-Smith taking on the top scorer. In this case, Harden is the de facto point guard with Irving playing off the ball. Expect coach Carlisle to use Richardson on Irving because of his quickness. Doe-Doe has held his own against Harden in previous matchups too.
The Mavericks will use Maxi Kleber on Bruce Brown. Expect the 6’4 guard to set plenty of screens and be involved in the pick and roll.
It leaves Luka Doncic to defend Joe Harris. The Mavs won’t love that matchup. Harris is shooting 54.5 percent from 3-point range over his last 12 games, but Doncic can hold his own. Expect the 21-year-old superstar to take a few possessions guarding James Harden too.
Saturday’s showdown should be filled with excitement. Dallas Mavericks fans should tune in to ABC and enjoy the show.