2. Allowing Grant Williams to defend Zion Williamson one-on-one
Unlike previous seasons, Dallas now has a burlier forward capable of defending wings and bigs. That forward is Grant Williams. Williams brings brute strength and a high defensive IQ to the Dallas roster. The perfect matchup for Zion Williamson.
No longer does Dallas need to decide whether or not to use their best wing defender to guard Brandon Ingram or Williamson, they can do both. Derrick Jones Jr. will likely be tasked with defending Ingram, while Williams will match up with Williamson.
Despite Williams' reputation as a quality defender, his defense hasn't been up to his usual standards this season. A year ago, Williams ranked top 50 in defensive win shares and defensive box plus/minus. This season, Williams is bottom 50 in defensive box plus/minus and in the bottom 100 in defensive rating.
These back-to-back games against the Pelicans could very well be bounce-back defensive games for Williams. His defensive acumen is of grave importance for the Mavericks' chances against the Pelicans.
New Orleans employs multiple shooters next to Williamson. Continuous help on the powerful forward won't bode well for the Mavs' defense. Allowing Jordan Hawkins, Brandon Ingram, or even Jonas Valanciunas to get open looks isn't an ideal formula for success.
Defending Williamson one-on-one will be a key to victory for Dallas. Help at the rim will always be necessary for a player of Williamson's caliber, but on the perimeter and in the post, it'll be ideal if Williams can defend the former Blue Devil without help.