By Bryan Murphy
The Dallas Mavericks six game win streak came to an end Sunday at the hands of Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Westbrook poured in 31 points and 11 assists and was unguardable at times while making big shot after big shot down the stretch.
The Mavs had huge contributions again from Deron Wiliams and Zaza Pachulia. Pachulia has been on an absolute tear for the Mavs as of late, notching double-double after double-double and supplying Dallas with energy and hustle any given play.
Another big man who played well against the Kevin Durant-less Thunder was JaVale McGee. McGee made his Mavericks debut and looked mighty fine, scoring eight points on four-of-five shooting in just 11 minutes of action. If that is how McGee can perform after returning from a stress fracture in his leg, then Mavs fans will be eager to see how he produces once he is 100 percent and off of a time restriction.
The Mavs will need to shake off the nail biting loss in Oklahoma City as they continue their cruel road trip this week in a back-to-back against two division rivals.
First, the Mavs will head to Memphis to face a very talented and deep Grizzlies squad. Highlighted by All-Star Center Marc Gasol, Pachulia and Dwight Powell will have their hands full trying to keep him below his season average of 15.7 PPG and 6.6 RPG. Memphis has been without the services of Zach Randolph its last two games which has allowed for other players like JaMychal Green and Matt Barnes to log more minutes.
The Grizzlies deep roster is led by their floor general at point guard, Mike Conley. Conley is one of the most underrated players in the NBA while somehow being left off of the All-Star team each season. Averaging nearly 15 PPG and 7 APG, Conley will definitely be the guy to look out for in this game.
The Mavericks then have the daunting task of traveling to San Antonio to battle with the five time champion San Antonio Spurs. At 10-3 and second in the Western Conference, the Spurs are an even deeper team than the Grizzlies. With the acquisitions of veteran David West and 4X All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge in the offseason, along with the familiar faces of the Spurs’ big three of Duncan, Parker and Ginobli, the Spurs are serious title contenders. Not to mention, the Spurs have produced a budding superstar in Kawhi Leonard. Leonard is maybe having his best season yet, averaging over 21 PPG and only getting better.
This game will also be a chess match between two of the best coaches in the NBA with Rick Carlisle and Gregg Popovich. NBA fans will surely be in store for a pre-Thanksgiving appetizer.
After a few days off, the Mavs head back home to close out the week against the Denver Nuggets. This will be one of those games that Dallas really should win at home against a below .500 team that is trying to find an identity. The Nuggets have an electrifying 19-year-old rookie point guard, Emmanuel Mudiay, who played his high school basketball at Prime Prep in Dallas. Instead of being another “one and done” college player, he decided to play last season with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of China because of the NBA rule that says a player must be a year removed from high school before entering the draft. Mudiay is a former McDonald’s All-American and appears to be a force in this league for years to come. In the Nuggets’ most recent outing against the red-hot Golden State Warriors, Mudiay was able to cross over Steph Curry and then splash in a wide open three. Hopefully he doesn’t earn his way to more highlight reels like that against the Mavericks.
The Mavericks have been the second hottest team in the NBA the past two weeks behind only the record breaking Warriors. Let’s see if a tough loss to the Thunder and an even tougher two games on the road against Memphis and San Antonio will derail the Mavs and cool them off nearing the end of the first month of the season.
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
11/24 @Grizzlies 7:00 pm
11/25 @Spurs 7:30 pm
11/28 vs Nuggets 7:30 pm