The Spurs face the Mavericks for the second time this season and first since the Silver and Black’s 113-108 October 29th overtime win at home. San Antonio visits Dallas looking to end a disappointing two-game losing streak that began in Oklahoma City on Saturday night and continued on Monday with a disappointing 108-93 loss to the Charlotte Hornets in Tony Parker’s return to the Alamo City. PtR’s Editor-in-Chief J.R. Wilco’s tweet best summed up the defeat:
Though playing a Maverick team floating three games under .500 after Sunday’s 119-114 home loss to Golden State, the Spurs must return to form to avoid a three-game losing skid.
San Antonio Spurs (25-20) @ Dallas Mavericks (20-23)
January 16, 2019| 7:30 PM CT
Watch: FSSW| Listen: WOAI
Spurs injuries: Dejounte Murray (knee), Marco Belinelli GTD (knee contusion), Rudy Gay GTD (wrist)
Mavericks injuries: J.J. Barea (surgery for ruptured Achilles tendon, out for season) Dennis Smith Jr. GTD (illness)
After spending the early part of the season as a playoff contender, the Mavericks have fallen back to 13th in the Western Conference, 3 games behind 8th place Utah. To eventually claim a spot and avoid the lottery for the second straight year, Dallas will need to improve on its dismal 4-18 road record.
Regardless, Luka Doncic’s rapid development as an all-star bodes well for Dallas’ future. The 19-year-old Real Madrid guard and Euroleague MVP was selected by Atlanta with the 3rd overall pick in the 2018 draft but immediately traded to Dallas for the 5th overall pick and a future first round pick, protected in 2019. The Hawks selected Oklahoma star Trae Young, the first player in NCAA history to lead men’s basketball in both points and assists. So far, both are highly productive rookie players. While still too early to definitively pronounce Dallas as the “winner” in the deal, Doncic appears on the verge of entering the category of “NBA elite”, slashing 25/5/7 over his last 5. For argument’s sake, look at the chart below comparing the two rookies. Doncic leads in just about every category. Interestingly, though both players started the season scoring about 19 points per game, Doncic now averages over 6 more points than Young.
J.J. Barea & Dirk
Over the weekend, the Mavericks lost sixth-man and team assist leader J.J. Barea to a torn Achilles for the remainder of the season. Even before his injury, Dallas was at best on the edge of contending for a playoff spot while rebuilding. With rumors circulating of a Dennis Smith Jr. trade, and future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki playing only 10 minutes a game and averaging 3.5 points, Dallas may be more focused on finding talent to complement their rookie sensation than ending up as a sacrificial lamb to Golden State in the first round of the playoffs.
Barnes and DeAndre
Dallas’ second leading scorer and best three point threat, Harrison Barnes, averages 18 points per game. DeAndre Jordan’s numbers are slightly down from his last season with the Clippers although he still averages a double/double. On the good side, he’s shooting free throws at a career high rate of 68% (he’s 46% for his career).
San Antonio has played six quarters of less then stellar ball after the thrilling double-overtime win over OKC and first half of the rematch in Oklahoma City. Giving up rebounds on the offensive end and turnovers account for much of the problems. Poor shooting, particularly from the three-point line, is the rest of it. More importantly, if LaMarcus Aldridge has decent support, the team can get by against a Charlotte or Dallas without Rudy Gay and Marco Belinelli. But when nobody but LMA is hitting shots, their offense is sorely missed. Both Rudy and Marco are listed as game time decisions in Dallas with lingering injury issues.
In addition to LA, Derrick White was the Spurs only bright spot against Charlotte. The second-year guard continues his maturation as both a player and Spur averaging 15.6 points, 4.6 assists and 4.6 boards per game over his last five while often taking on the most arduous defensive assignment.
San Antonio is shooting a few percentage points better than Dallas overall as well as from three. Dallas’ singular advantage comes from rebounding, including the offensive board.
Vegas prediction: Spurs by 1.
Game prediction: Spurs by 4.
For a Mavericks fan’s perspective, visit Mavs Moneyball.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this afternoon for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.