By Bryan Murphy
Dallas Mavericks center Salah Mejri hosted a block party on top of his coming out party this past week. Mejri, who is the first Tunisian born player in the NBA, logged eight important minutes in the 109-106 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night. Although he didn’t stuff the stat sheet, recording five points and one rebound, he made an impact with his hustle and timely blocked shots. Mejri then earned his first career NBA start Sunday against the Houston Rockets with Zaza Pachulia sidelined with a minor Achilles injury. The 29-year-old rookie had a phenomenal outing in Pachulia’s absence. He recorded his first career double-double notching 10 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, one of which was an athletic hustle block on James Harden. It wasn’t enough though as the Mavs fell apart in the fourth quarter and lost 115-104.
Another bright spot for Dallas amid the back-to-back losses they suffered to cap off the week has been Chandler Parsons. Parsons has been playing his best basketball of the season, hands down. Parsons has poured in at least 26 points in each of the last three games while shooting over 60 percent from the floor and 12-of-18 from behind the arc. In the loss to the Rockets, he was nearly unstoppable driving to the paint while also splashing in five three-pointers for his season-high 31 points.
The Mavericks will need Parsons to continue his superb play as Dallas embarks on a two-game West Coast road trip to begin the week. It all starts Tuesday night in Los Angles when they face the lowly Lakers who have lost six straight games. Dallas shouldn’t have any trouble for the obvious reason that the Lakers just really aren’t any good. At 9-37 and with Kobe Bryant many years past his prime, the only threat LA possesses against Dallas is the young fire power in Jordan Clarkson, DeAngelo Russell and Julius Randle. Nonetheless, the Mavs should leave the Staples Center with an easy victory.
The mini road trip out west isn’t all roses and daises as Dallas has to travel to Oracle Arena to face the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors the following night. Golden State’s previous three games have all been blowout wins against Cleveland, Chicago and Indiana. The Warriors are a whopping 40-4 and having one of the best seasons in NBA history. Dallas is proud to say that one of those four losses has been dished out by your Dallas Mavericks. Reigning MVP Steph Curry did not play in that 114-91 Mavs win on Dec. 30 and most believe that is the sole reason as to why the Mavs were able to come away victorious.
Curry will be in action this time around and be afraid Mavs fans. Be very, very afraid. Averaging over 30 PPG, Curry is a wizard with the basketball and has been an absolute pleasure to watch any given night. Dallas will also need to account for Draymond Green. Green is having a career year and leads the NBA in triple-doubles with eight. Many times, Golden State rolls out its “small ball’ lineup with Green playing the stretch four role. That can be when the Warriors are the most deadly especially when you have Curry and Thompson raining in threes left and right.
The Mavs then head home to face two underachieving teams in the Brooklyn Nets and the Phoenix Suns. In the only other meeting with the Nets this season, the Mavs were able to sneak by with a 119-118 win with the help of JJ Barea’s 32 points and 11 assists. Thaddeus Young led the way for Brooklyn with 29 points and 10 rebounds and Dallas will need to do a better job defensively on him.
The Suns then come to town with problems of their own. Phoenix came into this season with high expectations after acquiring Tyson Chandler. Chandler is coming off of a 27 rebound game in a surprising win against the Atlanta Hawks and expect another decent game from him this week as he strolls into his old stomping grounds of the American Airlines Center.
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
1/26 @Lakers 9:30 pm
1/27 @Warriors 9:30 pm
1/29 vs Nets 7:30 pm
1/31 vs Suns 6:00 pm