Preview: Nuggets take on Mavericks in potential postseason preview

The Nuggets (43-21) could be looking at a potential playoff preview when they travel to Dallas to face the Mavericks (39-27) in a nationally televised contest.

Denver sits just 0.5 games back from the second-placed Clippers while the Mavericks appear to be firmly entrenched in the seventh seed as they are six games above the eighth-seeded Grizzlies and two games behind the sixth-placed Rockets. These teams could likely match up in the first round if the Nuggets regain a hold of the second seed.

The season series is currently tied at 1-1, with each team winning nail-biting contests at their opponent’s home court.

Here are the storylines to watch for: 

Can Joker repeat stellar showing against Dallas?

 The Nuggets' last win against Dallas was sparked by a dominant performance by Nikola Jokić, who had 33 points on 60 percent shooting to go along with seven assists and six boards. Denver will need more of the same Wednesday.

Jokić has been in MVP form in 2020, but he’s been in a bit of a quiet spell, by his standards, over the last three games. The Nuggets two-time All-Star has been averaging just 10.7 points on 38.2 percent shooting during that span. Jokić could get going again against a Dallas team that’s struggled to defend opposing frontcourts.

Over the last five games, the Mavericks are 2-3 and have surrendered 51.6 points in the paint per game – which is 24th in the NBA in that period. The Nuggets could another big outing from their star center along with strong showings from Paul Millsap and Jerami Grant. 

Execute offensive gameplan efficiently

Another area where Dallas struggles is generating turnovers. The Mavericks are 29th in opponent turnovers at 12.2 per game and only collect 6.2 steals a game (28th). This is the perfect opportunity for the Nuggets’ offense to get back to its best in protecting the ball.

Denver is currently eighth in the NBA in turnovers at 13.7 per game, but has had its issues since the All-Star break in that area. In the last nine games, the giveaways have ballooned up to 15.9 per game (25th) and teams are scoring 20.6 points per game off of those turnovers (30th). Wednesday should present a chance for the team to get back to its fundamentals.

The Porzingis factor

Porzingis didn’t play in the last contest between these two teams and his inclusion on Wednesday could make things more challenging for the Nuggets Wednesday.

The 7-foot-3 pivot man isn't the best low-post defender, but he makes up for it with his shot-blocking ability and offensive skillset. Over his last 10 games, Porzingis has largely been dominant, averaging 24.8 points, 10 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 3.0 assists while shooting a solid 36.8 percent from downtown.  However, in the Mavericks' last two outings against the Pacers and Spurs exposed cracks in the façade. He shot just 21 percent in those two games, both losses for Dallas, and an interesting factor could be size.

Both San Antonio and Indiana possess big frontcourts with players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Trey Lyles, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis. Denver has a similar advantage with a versatile array of big men who can score inside or out and that could play into its hands Wednesday.


Projected Starters: Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton III, Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokić