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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks

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The Spurs head to Dallas to face the struggling Mavericks, the first of two road games in two nights.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe there’s a limit to schadenfreude, even towards a long-time rival. As the Mavs wilt in the twilight years of their franchise cornerstone, a Spurs fan may start to brush aside bitter memories of Jason Terry striking Michael Finley below the belt; of Dirk Nowitzki’s back-breaking and-one in 2006; of Juwan Howard and Derek Anderson in 2001; of Zaza Pachulia’s previous improprieties wearing blue and white; of an owner’s repeated jabs at a city’s noble artery. Maybe after watching their team take 18 of the last 21 regular-season meetings, after seeing their adversaries stumble towards the bottom of the NBA standings, people like me could try not teasing their old Dallas friends after each win and show a little friggin’ humility. Or not.

The Spurs come into tonight’s game fresh off their best win of the season, against the lowly Bulls. Like Chicago, the Mavs only have two wins to their name and seem destined for another trip to the lottery, although you’d have to argue that they’re a better team on paper. They have decent wing play in Harrison Barnes and Wes Matthews, an exciting rookie in Dennis Smith Jr., a couple of cagey backup point guards, and Dirk, who even this late in the game can still produce.

Dallas has had a brutal schedule to open the season, and it’s likely better than its record may suggest. But this is still a game the Spurs should win, even missing a number of key players yet again.

San Antonio Spurs (8-5) at Dallas Mavericks (2-12)

November 14, 2017 | 7:30 pm CDT

Watch: FSSW, Listen: WOAI

Spurs injuries: Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps), Tony Parker (quadriceps), Joffrey Lauvergne (ankle), Derrick White (fractured right wrist), Danny Green (hamstring)

Mavericks injuries: Seth Curry (leg), Devin Harris (ribs), Josh McRoberts (knee)

Return of King Joffrey?

Lauvergne’s played in three regular-season games as a Spur before hurting his ankle against Toronto. It’s expected he’ll return to action tonight, which is great news for a frontcourt rotation that’s been two-players deep since October. In the team’s latest injury report, the Frenchman was listed as questionable.

The Spurs could also see Danny Green (hamstring) and Manu Ginobili (rest) back on the floor after missing Saturday night’s game against Chicago.

Dennis Smith, Jr.

For a while now, it’s seemed like the only way to judge how Dallas was doing was whether or not it was doing right by Dirk. Now, there could be a more important measuring stick for the franchise, and if there’s to be a silver lining to this season, it’ll likely be from their promising rookie. Smith is averaging just under 15-5-4 and looking like a steal at the ninth pick in the 2017 draft, routinely producing above-the-rim plays like this.

Anything can happen

The Spurs have looked better as of late, and the Mavericks are awful, but I’m not sure there’s any result that would surprise me tonight. Dallas’ two wins have come at the Wizards and against the Grizzlies, both good teams, and San Antonio is coming into the first night of a back-to-back, potentially easing guys back into the rotation, and facing a seemingly weak opponent with a warlock head coach. I expect a win, but there is some sneaky trap-game potential to this one.

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Vegas Odds: Spurs by 6.5.

Game Prediction: Spurs by 11.

For the Mavs fan’s perspective, visit Mavs Moneyball.

As always, Tony must dominate Fisher.

PtR's GameThread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action. through PtR's Twitter feed.