Preview: Well-rested Mavs welcome streaking, short-handed Spurs
Preview: Spurs (34-11) at Mavericks (18-24)
Well-rested Mavs welcome streaking, short-handed Spurs
Falling to a season-worst 129-91 road loss back on Dec. 23 as the Spurs hit a franchise record 20 3-pointers to ruin 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki’s season debut, the Mavericks (18-24) attempted to redeem themselves at home against their in-state rival exactly one week later. But instead the Spurs (34-11) would go on to rout the Mavs on the American Airlines Center floor after a 111-86 blowout.
Traveling to Dallas without coach Gregg Popovich (sickness) and All-Star big man Tim Duncan (sore left knee), the Spurs enter the third of four regular-season matchups between the two teams riding a six-game winning streak. However, the Mavericks will be well rested after four days off, looking to continue their own improved play of late Friday night after winning five of their last six outings.
And one day after Nowitzki’s consecutive All-Star appearances streak came to an end at 11 and Dallas’ 13-year stretch of at least one named participant also came to a halt, the Mavericks will try to avenge their two losses in the month of December with a win over the Southwest Division leader.
He added: “I mean, they’ve beat us a couple times earlier this year, so we’ve got to be ready for a great game Friday.”
Without Duncan and fellow starter Kawhi Leonard (left knee contusion), the Spurs still reeled off a sixth straight win after a 106-102 victory at home over New Orleans on Wednesday. Leonard traveled with the Spurs to Big D but is listed as questioned for Friday night’s matchup. Still, the Mavs remain well aware that it doesn’t matter who takes the floor for the opposition if the Dallas team continues to execute and share the ball.
“I think they’re still playing great,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of the Spurs. “Regardless of who plays, they’re a great team, they have a system that they plug everybody into and [Wednesday night] they were without two starters but they still beat a good team in New Orleans that had the lead most of the night. So they’re going to play well. That’s not a question. It’s got to be about our approach to the game. We’ve got to bring disposition and intelligence to this game, and we’ve got to make sure we’re always on the attack.”
“It’s really not about who we’re playing,” eight-time All-Star and sixth man Vince Carter added. “It’s about what we need to do. Every game is important to us, so whether we’ve beaten a team two or three times, or we’ve lost to them two or three times, we need to approach this game the same way and that’s to win and get the job done by any means.”
Two nights after scoring a season-high 29 points in the Mavs’ lone loss in their last six games, a 117-114 overtime home defeat at the hands of Oklahoma City, Carter passed out a season-best six assists in Sunday’s 111-105 road win over Orlando as the Mavs continued to share the wealth while dishing 29 dimes as a team to help seven scorers reach double figures. In each of the last five games, at least six Mavs have scored in double figures while the team has averaged 26.8 assists and just 10.6 turnovers.
Those trends may have to continue if the Mavs are going to knock off the Spurs in the first of two home games before an eight-day, four-game road trip next week.
“I mean, balance is big for us,” Carter said. “We have our go-to guys and we put our guys who can score in the positions that they need to be in and give them the ball. But when we’re moving the ball, I think that ignites our defense as well, believe it or not. I’m not saying that’s great all the time, because you want your defense to just be able to kind of piggyback with your offense, but I think when we’re moving the ball and playing well everybody feels good and we carry that over on the defensive end. But at the same time, I think even when we had scoring lolls where we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket, we still were able to defend. And I just think we’re understanding each other and we’re really making a run for it now.”
Note: The Mavericks will return to action Friday night at home against the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs lead the season series 2-0 after two double-digit wins back in December. The game will air locally at 7 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest and nationally on ESPN. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.