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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks

Spurs look to bounce back against In-State rival.

Dallas Mavericks v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs have not found success on their road trip, losing two-straight to the Milwaukee Bucks and the Chicago Bulls. In those games, the Spurs have struggled offensively and allowed their opponents to hurt them on the perimeter. Heading into the last leg of their road trip, they’ll be forced to keep pace with the perimeter oriented Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavericks are one of the most efficient offenses in the NBA (7th in offensive rating.) Led by Luka Doncic, the Mavs are scoring 119 points and a game and hitting 15.7 threes a game. The Spurs have improved defensively since their first matchup with the Mavericks on opening night, in which they lost a close game 126-119. The Mavericks are coming off the second game of a back-to-back, losing to the Houston Rockets on Friday night. San Antonio will need to slow down the Mavericks offensive attack if they want to snap their three-game losing streak.

San Antonio Spurs (4-23) at Dallas Mavericks (16-12)

December 23, 2023 | 7:30 PM CT

Watch: KENS5 | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Charles Bassey – Out (left ACL,) Charles Bediako – Out (G League,) David Duke Jr. – Out (G League,) Keldon Johnson – Probable (low back)

Mavericks Injuries: Do not need to submit their lineup until 1 p.m. CT on December 21.

What to watch for

Finding Wembanyama

After the Spurs loss to the Bulls on Thursday, fans took to social media to make fun of San Antonio’s inability to find their 7-foot-4 big man in the paint. This tweet in particular made me laugh:

One would think that after all of the scrutiny San Antonio’s ball handlers will be looking to find the big man early and often. In their last matchup, Wembanyama started slow, but had an impressive fourth quarter. If they want to compete with one of the best teams in the west, the Spurs will need to involve their first overall pick.

Slowing down Luka Doncic

The Mavericks star player has a legitimate MVP case this season. Doncic is averaging 32.7 points, 9.1 assists and 8.4 rebounds on efficient shooting splits. He lit up the Spurs for 33 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. San Antonio had to double team Doncic in the fourth quarter and their defense couldn’t stop the rest of the Mavs.

Doncic sat out Dallas’ last game with Houston with a quad injury. If the star is ready to play against San Antonio, they’ll have to find a way to slow him down.

Take care of the ball

The Mavericks are not an elite defense. They are 23rd in defensive rating, and bottom-three in forcing steals. San Antonio has a problem with unforced turnovers, which stifles any momentum the Spurs can get offensively. Dallas shouldn’t pose a problem turning the Spurs over, but San Antonio cannot shoot themselves in the foot with unforced errors – especially with their lack of offensive firepower lately.