Preview: Mavs seek revenge vs. Spurs, try to end five-game skid
Earl K. Sneed previews the Dallas Mavericks' Sunday matchup against the San Antonio Spurs, as the Mavs seek retribution for their worst loss of the season just one week prior.
Preview: Spurs (23-8) at Mavericks (12-18)
Mavs seek revenge vs. Spurs, try to end five-game skid
Attempting to avenge their worst loss of the season, a 129-91 thumping in San Antonio one week ago, the Mavericks (12-18) will seek retribution on their home floor while also hoping to bring an end to their current five-game losing streak. Meanwhile, the Mavs will pay extra attention to the Spurs’ deadly 3-point shooting, after allowing the San Antonio squad to swish in 20 made shots from behind the arc on 30 attempts en route to the lopsided victory.
“Well, we’ve got to play better. Simple as that,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle matter-of-factly said. “San Antonio is a great team. They put you in a lot of binds in a lot of ways and it’s all about playing a complete game and playing a hard 48-minute game.
“When they make [threes] like that, they’re tough to beat. We’ve got to do a better job of taking those away.”
Now, the Mavs will try to get even after the Spurs (23-8) ruined the season debut of 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki. In order to do so, however, the Dallas team will have to demonstrate better all-around play, after the Spurs also outshot the Mavs on the night, 56 percent to 45.9 percent, in addition to a 41-39 rebounding edge and 25 points off 20 turnovers.
The Dallas team will continue to work Nowitzki into the fold as well, despite the fact that since returning from arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 19 the sharpshooter is averaging just 7.3 points on 32.0 percent shooting to go along with 4.3 rebounds in 21.7 minutes per game off the bench.
“It’s not pretty right now obviously,” Nowitzki said after logging 17 minutes in Friday’s 106-85 home loss to Denver one night after playing 26 minutes in Oklahoma City. “Not pretty defensively, not pretty offensively, not pretty on the glass, so we’ve got to keep on working and keep on plugging. Eventually we’ll work ourselves out of it. … This is not the time to go separate ways. When it’s tough, you’ve got to pull together. And hopefully we can pull through.”
He added: “I’m going to work myself into better shape obviously and can help a little more, but right now I’m not helping that much. I was a step slow (on Friday night). That was obvious. I had really no lift on my jumper, so everything was in and out, but that last little thing is missing. This was my first back-to-back and really was my first games. I didn’t even play a preseason game besides that one in Berlin, so these are my first games in a long, long time. So it’s ugly but I’ve got to keep fighting, got to keep working hard on practice days and eventually I’ll be able to come back.”
The Mavs will certainly need Nowitzki as close to his All-Star form as possible Sunday evening, attempting to send the Spurs to a fifth straight road loss. Fortunately for Dallas’ sake, after leading scorer O.J. Mayo broke out of a four-game shooting slump in which he totaled just 29 points on 10-of-40 shooting, less of a burden should be placed on Nowitzki’s broad shoulders.
Still, with Mayo totaling 23 turnovers combined on his own in the last four games, even he admits that something must change if the Mavs are going to end San Antonio’s four-game winning streak.
“Obviously, we’re all frustrated and we all want to win but right now it’s been tough,” Mayo admitted after scoring a team-high 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting despite six turnovers. “We can turn it around, we’re gonna turn it around, but it takes small steps. We can’t get it all back in one game or one practice, but I think every little thing holding each other accountable definitely can make a change.
“We have a good team,” he added. “It’s not like we’re a [bad] team out there, we really can play. But it takes the little things. We’ve got to hold each other accountable for all the little things to add up to make it big.”
Note: The Mavericks will return to action at home on Sunday against Southwest Division rival San Antonio while trying to avenge a season-worst 129-91 road loss to the Spurs on Dec. 23. The game will air locally at 6:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.