What’s up with the Dallas Mavericks?
The Mavericks are coming off a big win heading into this matchup. They took down the defending champs, the Golden State Warriors, in a tight and hard-fought game. That win ended a four-game losing streak and got the team back to an even 10-10 record.
It took another incredible performance from Luka Doncic to pull off the win. Doncic had his third (!!!) 40-point triple-double in the game, finishing with 41 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists. Tim Hardway chipped in 22 points to help Doncic out.
That’s been the story of the season so far for the Mavericks. Doncic has done the heavy lifting and a key player will contribute here and there, but there haven’t been enough players consistently stepping up to help out their Wonder Boy.
Doncic is scoring one-third (33.5 PPG) of the team’s 109.5 points per game output. The team’s second-best scorer is Spencer Dinwiddie at 17 points per game. That’s an unhealthy load distribution for a team looking to make it back to the Conference Finals. They can’t rely so heavily on Doncic or else he will break down even before the playoffs begin.
This matchup against the Detroit Pistons is an opportunity for the rest of the Mavericks to step up and give their superstar a game off.
What’s up with the Detroit Pistons?
There are no two ways about it. The Pistons are the NBA’s worst team. They have the most losses of any team in the league with 18, against only five wins. While they were never meant to be a winning program yet, the expectations for this team were higher than where they are right now.
There are a lot of factors that have contributed to this rough season so far for Detroit. Their youth and inexperience aside, the Pistons have also suffered major injuries to key players. Cade Cunningham, last year’s top pick and the supposed leader of the squad, has been out since early November with a shin injury. To make matters worse, the team is thinking about shutting him down.
Aside from Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Marvin Bagley III, Jaden Ivey, Isaiah Stewart, and Bojan Bogdanovic have all missed some time. That means the Pistons have had to cobble together lineups composed of second-round picks and various journeymen. The team’s roster issues have affected the product on the court. The Pistons are one of the worst teams in the league, with a net rating of minus-8.7 (29th).
With Cunningham and Ivey projected to miss the game against the Mavericks, the Pistons are in for a difficult night against a team looking to build momentum for their playoff push.
Storyline to watch out for
Christian Wood had a tough game against the Golden State Warriors. He finished with only four points and missed 10 shots in the game. Playing against his former team should provide some motivation for him to come out with more aggression.
Beyond that, he has to start playing like the borderline All-Star he was before joining the Mavericks. His potential as a 20-10 guy with a huge defensive upside was the reason why Dallas traded for him. Right now, he’s not even close to that player. If he wants to help his team rise in the standings, he has to drastically improve on his 16-7 line this season.
Dominating a young frontline of a lottery-bound team could be the spark he needs to turn his season around.
While a surprise upset isn’t out of the question, it’s highly unlikely that the hobbled Pistons pull out the win. The Mavericks are simply the better team. They can let Doncic do his thing for one half, build a big lead, and let the rest of the team take care of wrapping things up.
Where to watch
The game between the Mavericks and the Pistons will be aired live on NBA TV Philippines and NBA League Pass at 8:00 AM.