By Bryan Murphy
The Dallas Mavericks wasted yet another vintage Dirk Nowitzki performance in a gut wrenching overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.
Nowitzki poured in a smooth and quiet 30 points along with Deron Williams, who also turned back the clock, scoring 13 of his 17 points down the stretch. But, it wasn’t enough and Dallas suffered its second consecutive loss, both to teams with a losing record.
Now, there is good news and some bad news for the Mavericks coming up this week. The good news is that the next three games are at home including five of the next seven. The first part of the bad news is that that first game on the homestand will be a second night of a back-to-back to be played Monday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The second part of the bad news for Dallas is that the next nine games will all be against teams with a winning record including Cleveland, Indiana and two against Golden State and two more against Portland, who is currently just half a game behind Dallas in the standings.
But first, the attention will be on superstar Chris Paul and the Clippers. Many of the Mavs’ veterans logged heavy minutes on Sunday so don’t be surprised if Coach Rick Carlisle decides to rest some guys, one of them being Nowitzki.
The Mavericks have been atrocious at rebounding the basketball as of late, especially in the previous two losses. Big man DeMarcus Cousins pounded the Mavs with 13 rebounds on Thursday and Kenneth Faried had a monster game on Sunday as well. The Nuggets forward had 25 points, including the game tying dunk to send the game to overtime, and snagged 20 rebounds. Dating back to last season, Clippers center DeAndre Jordan has had similar games against Dallas. If he goes off like that Monday night, the chances for ending this current losing skid are slim to none.
Chris Paul is having yet another fantastic season. The 9X All-Star has stepped up tremendously in Blake Griffin’s absence, who hasn’t played since Christmas. Averaging just less than 20 points and 10 assists per game, Paul is a floor general who orchestrates the offense and can create havoc for the opposing defenses. One of the reasons Dallas was able to come away victorious the last time these two teams faced each other was because of the job defensively on Paul. Paul was held to just 11 points on two-of-eleven shooting in the 118-108 Mavs win back in November.
Then the Mavericks welcome the Detroit Pistons to town for their only trip to the American Airlines Center this season. The 32-31 Pistons are led by point guard Reggie Jackson and 22 year-old Andre Drummond. Drummond has emerged this season as one of the best centers in the NBA and has been putting up ridiculous numbers in the stat sheet. Not only did he make his first All-Star appearance this season, but he also leads the NBA in rebounding with a whopping 15 per game. If the Mavericks can keep him under 20 rebounds on Wednesday, consider that a successful night.
Closing out the week, former Maverick Monta Ellis and the Indiana Pacers make their only trip to Dallas this season as well. Ellis played the two previous seasons with Dallas and even led the team in scoring last season averaging nearly 19 points per game. His numbers are a tad down in his first season with Indiana but that’s mainly because he isn’t asked to do as much playing alongside superstar Paul George.
George has fully bounced back from his gruesome leg injury he suffered in the summer of 2014 and is currently ninth in the NBA in scoring with 23.7 per game. At just 19 years old, Bedford, Texas native Myles Turner has already found his way into the starting lineup for the Pacers. The rookie from the University of Texas had a decent month of February, putting up 13 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while also logging 30 minutes per game as well. He and Ian Mahinmi, another former Maverick, have become quite the duo down low for the Pacers this season and will surely be a handful for the Mavericks.
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
3/7 vs Clippers 7:30 pm
3/9 vs Pistons 7:30 pm
3/12 vs Pacers 1:00 pm