Coming off a disappointing defensive effort in San Antonio last night, the Wizards (9-31) will have to face Dirk Nowitzki and the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks (23-20). Both teams have posted a 2-8 record over their last ten games. The Mavericks are coming off of two days of rest after losing all three games of a back-to-back-to-back against teams with losing records.
In San Antonio last night, the Wizards let all-star point guard Tony Parker do whatever he wanted to, to the tune of 31 points pn 72% shooting. Tiago Splitter also had his fair share of uncontested shots in the paint. The bright side for the Wizards heading into tonight’s match-up is that the Mavericks are not as capable of an offensive team as the Spurs. The Spurs are fifth in the league in scoring, while Dallas sits at 22rd on that list, just one spot ahead of the Wizards.
Outside of Nowitzki and Jason Terry, the Mavericks haven’t had consistent scoring. Their winning record can be attributed to their tough defense led by the perimeter play of Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion. The Mavericks hold their opponents to 34.8% shooting from 16-23 feet, the range where Nick Young and Jordan Crawford like to operate. The weakest areas of the Mavericks’ defense are at the rim and in transition, the two areas where the Wizards are most effective.
John Wall was unable to get to the basket against the Spurs with all five of his field goals coming from 16-23 feet. Despite being hit in the face with a pass last night, JaVale McGee had a solid outing with 21 points and 15 rebounds, and was able to take advantage of the Spurs’ lack of athletic big men. Mavericks’ center Brendan Haywood should be back in the lineup tonight after missing the last four games with an ankle injury, but McGee should have another good game against the thin Mavericks’ front court.
McGee struggled in the two meetings between these teams last season with Dallas winning both. McGee combined for 8 points and 14 rebounds in those two games. Opposing center Tyson Chandler imposed his will on McGee in those games and posted totals of 41 points and 31 rebounds. McGee may be breathing a sigh of relief tonight when he takes the floor knowing that Chandler is donning a New York Knicks uniform this season.
Trevor Booker, perhaps the Wizards’ most surprising player this year, will have his hands full against Dirk Nowitzki and his tremendous ability to score from anywhere on the floor. Booker’s toughness in the paint makes up for his lack of height on most nights, but he will likely have a tough time contesting Nowitzki’s array of outside shooting and twisting fade-aways. The key for Booker will be to stay out of foul trouble and not let Nowitzki get to the free throw line where he shoots 87%.
Match-ups to watch:
- John Wall vs Jason Kidd: John Wall needs to get back on track tonight against the 38-year-old Jason Kidd who is averaging 1.7 steals per game this year. Wall can’t afford to be careless with the ball against one of the better defensive point guards to ever play the game.
- Trevor Booker vs Dirk Nowitzki: Booker needs to stay under Dirk’s skin all night long and make every shot a contested one. This could be one of those games where the Wizards let Dirk get his points and focus on keeping the other Mavericks from having big games. The Wizards should not worry about double-teaming Dirk and leaving players like Jason Terry open for three pointers in the process.
- Nick Young vs Jason Terry: Both of these guys are shooters, and both of these guys have games where they don’t show up. Depending on who shows up tonight, both of these guys have the ability to swing the balance of the game in their team’s favor.
Fun fact about tonight’s game:In two games against the Wizards, his former team, Brendan Haywood averaged 2 points and 1.5 rebounds in 11 minutes per game.
My prediction:Washington 90, Dallas 95. I can’t see the Mavericks dropping four straight games against teams with losing records. The Wizards have played competitively against some of the better defensive teams in the league like Chicago and Los Angeles, but their better efforts have come at home. On the road, the Wizards never seem to put together four good quarters of basketball. Against the Mavericks, one bad quarter could put the Wizards out of it.
The game tips off tonight at 8:30 EST.
You can follow along with the game with me on Twitter @cooooooookiee