The Brooklyn Nets are in the midst of a brutal scheduling stretch, playing 12 games in 18 days and on a trip of three road games in four days. Tonight, they take on the Dallas Mavericks, one of just three opponents they’ll face with a record over .500 for the rest of the season with a race for playoff positioning.
BY SAM LACHOW
|8-2||Last 10 Games||6-4|
|103.8||Points scored per 100 possessions||108.6|
|104.0||Points allowed per 100 possessions||105.6|
|93.9||Possessions per game||96.3|
|45.6%||Field goal percentage||47.4%|
|Joe Johnson (15.4)||Top Scorer||Dirk Nowitzki (21.5)|
Projected starting lineup: Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Samuel Dalembert
For the Nets, it’s hard not to keep an eye on Deron Williams, who’s returning home to Dallas and has had some exciting moments in his hometown. He’s averaged 24.3 points per game in three matchups since Williams spurned Mark Cuban & the Mavericks and re-signed in Brooklyn, including a full activation of the Mark Cuban Struggle Face.
The Mavericks are a surprise team this season. Led by Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon, Dallas boasts the league’s third-best offense, scoring 108.6 points per 100 possessions.
Nowitzki, Calderon, and former Nets guard Vince Carter all shoot over 38 percent from three-point range on a combined 13.7 attempts per game, and Calderon’s game management leads to very few turnovers. The free-wheeling Monta Ellis gives them just enough surprise punch to make things interesting, and Ellis is second on the team in scoring after Nowitzki and first in assists.
Dirk Nowitzki is the player to watch for tonight’s game. Since a poor showing against the Nets on January 24th — hitting just 5 of 15 shots as Mirza Teletovic shot the lights out — Nowitzki has rolled, averaging 22.2 points per game while shooting 52.2 percent from the field, 40.6 percent from three-point range, and 93.9 percent from the free throw line.
This is no cakewalk. The Mavericks are a great three-point shooting team, they’re a decent rebounding team, and they don’t turn the ball over, which doesn’t bode well for Brooklyn’s aggressive defense. But the Nets have rolled through opponents in 2014 of all types, and a win over the Mavericks would be a big one with the team’s advantage over most of the rest of their schedule.