Playing on the road has not bothered the Golden State Warriors lately, but they are about to visit what may be the most unfriendly environment they will face all season.
A very unpleasant atmosphere likely awaits the Warriors on Wednesday in their first trip back to Dallas since they stunned the Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs.
"With what's gone on over the past year and a half between these teams, any time we meet it's going to be a big game," Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse said after his team won 120-115 at Golden State on Nov. 8.
That was the first matchup between the teams since the Warriors upset the league-best Mavericks in six games, including a Game 1 victory in Dallas, to become the first No. 8 seed to win a best-of-seven playoff series.
Baron Davis tormented the Mavericks throughout that series, averaging 25.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.7 assists, and he nearly rallied the Warriors (19-13) to victory in the only meeting this season. He scored 15 of his season-high 37 points in the fourth quarter, but missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds.
That defeat, which ended Golden State's five-game regular season win streak over Dallas (20-11), was part of an 0-6 start for the Warriors. They have not lost back-to-back games since, going 19-7 to climb to seventh in the Western Conference standings and within 1 1/2 games of the fourth-place Mavs.
"We have more of a rivalry with San Antonio or Phoenix, but the way the Warriors have been playing, it can definitely turn into one," reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki said after the Nov. 8 meeting.
This is the eighth time playing on the road in the past 10 games for Golden State, which has won five of six away from home. The Warriors are looking to complete a perfect three-game road trip after impressive wins on back-to-back nights, beating Northwest Division-leading Denver 105-95 before defeating Houston 112-95 on Monday.
Davis again came up big in the latest win, scoring or assisting on six of Golden State's first eight baskets of a fourth quarter in which his team outscored the Rockets 37-15. Davis finished with 23 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
"Any time we're in the fourth quarter and we're trying to get some buckets, we'll just put the ball in Baron's hands and we start playing off him," said Stephen Jackson, who had 18 points. "That's been highly successful for us."
Davis has averaged 26.8 points and 9.0 assists over the last five games.
Nowitzki has not been as effective recently for Dallas, shooting 40 percent from the field and 4-of-14 from 3-point range in the last three games. The Mavericks lost two of those games, though they are coming off a 97-84 win over Atlanta on Saturday.
Nowitzki surely would like to use Wednesday's game to break out of his minor slump after being highly criticized for his poor playoff series last season versus Golden State, shooting 38.3 percent and getting held to 19.7 points per game.
Nowitzki had 22 points and 11 rebounds in the first meeting this season.
He was 8-of-19 from the field for 22 points Saturday as the Mavericks shot below 44 percent and were held under 100 points for the third straight game.
"We know we're a good shooting team," said Mavs guard Jason Terry. "Shooters keep shooting."
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