New Orleans kicks off their Mardi Gras road trip tonight in Dallas. As you're probably aware, the Pelicans have dropped four straight and five games away from home against Western Conference foes isn't going to help stop the bleeding.
Despite an 8-3 record in February, the Mavericks are battling to maintain their precarious playoff positioning, sitting only 2.5 games up on the 9th seeded Memphis Grizzlies. However, don't look at Dirk Nowitzki. He's been more than doing his part playing some of his best basketball in years. Currently, he's on pace for a 4th 60+ TS% season and the lowest TOV% of his career.
Where Dallas tends to falter is on the defensive end, giving up 102.3 PPG to opponents. They rank in the bottom 1/3 of the league in defensive efficiency, opponent fast break points and opponent FG%. Given their personnel (starter's average age of 32.4), it isn't surprising that Carlisle's best strategy involves out-scoring the opponent.
3 keys to the game:
- Pound the paint. Dallas allows 43.1 points in the paint as the majority of the time they play without a true paint presence. Starting center Samuel Dalembert averages only 20 minutes a game and Brandan Wright's shot-blocking abilities are dramatically down this season.
- Guard against the 3. Dallas is 8th in the league in 3 pointers made (8.4). Both Brian Roberts and Anthony Davis need to stick with Jose Calderon and Nowitzki around the perimeter and someone has to account for Vince Carter when he enters the game.
- Run run run. We all know by now that Monty will emphasize slowing down the Mavericks potent attack. That means lots of big lineups early in lieu of efficient quick-strike offense. However, I implore he abandon his questionable strategy and urge Evans, Gordon and Rivers to consistently attack. If there's one team that is susceptible to a high amount of penetrations, it is Dallas.