Dallas Mavericks: W2W4

W2W4: Grizzlies present big problems for Mavs

December, 21, 2012
The Mavs will probably have some big problems in Memphis.

That would likely be the case against the Southwest Division-leading Grizzlies regardless of the circumstances. However, it certainly doesn’t help matters that the Mavs will face Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol with a depleted frontcourt, as Dirk Nowitzki isn’t ready to make his season debut and Elton Brand and Brandan Wright are likely to miss another game due to injuries.

The schedule also doesn’t help the Mavs, who are playing the butt end of a back-to-back after being blown out by the Miami Heat on Thursday night. It’s tough enough to win in Memphis, where the Grizzlies are 11-2 this season, without arriving at the airport at approximately 2 a.m.

Records: Mavs (12-14); Sixers (12-12)

When: 7:00 p.m.

Where: FedEx Forum


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: It could get especially brutal on the boards. The Mavs rank last in the NBA in rebounding margin (minus-4.7 per game). The Grizzlies rank fifth (plus-3.9). Randolph has the potential to dominate Dallas in this department. He ranks second in the NBA with an average of 12.9 rebounds per game. With the 6-foot-9, 255-pound Randolph around, a missed shot by Memphis might as well be an assist in many instances.

Key matchup: O.J. Mayo vs. Tony Allen – There’s some history here. Allen replaced Mayo in Memphis’ starting lineup, and they infamously fought over a gambling debt on the team plane. The Mavs need Mayo to be great to have any realistic hope of beating the Grizzlies. He has averaged 25.2 points on 55.5 percent shooting in the Mavs’ wins, compared to 15.9 points on 40.1 percent shooting in their losses. Allen is considered the NBA’s best shutdown shooting guard, having been voted to the All-Defensive team the last two seasons.

Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) and Derek Fisher (knee) are out. F/C Brandan Wright (ankle) and F/C Elton Brand (groin) are day-to-day but not expected to play. Grizzlies – None.

Up next: at San Antonio Spurs, 6 p.m. Sunday

W2W4: Will Mavs or Sixers snap losing streak?

December, 18, 2012
DALLAS – A three-game losing streak will end tonight at the American Airlines Center.

The question is, will the Mavericks or 76ers snap their skid?

The answer could depend on the availability of Philadelphia point guard Jrue Holiday, who is considered a game-time decision due to a foot injury that has sidelined him the last two games. Holiday leads the Sixers in scoring (18.4 points per game) and assists (8.9).

Records: Mavs (11-13); Sixers (12-12)

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: American Airlines Center


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Can Juice get loose? The Sixers did an excellent job containing O.J. Mayo during Philadelphia’s home win over the Mavs last month, holding him to 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting. The Sixers’ perimeter defense has slipped recently, however. Philadelphia has lost eight of its last 13 games, allowing opponents to shoot 39.8 percent from 3-point range. If Mayo gets good looks, odds are the ball is going in. He leads the NBA in 3-point percentage (51.2) and ranks second in 3-pointers made (66).

Key matchup: Elton Brand vs. Spencer Hawes – Brand played one of his best games of the season the last time the Mavs faced his former team, scoring 17 points and grabbing eight rebounds in 19 minutes. The vast majority of his minutes are coming as a backup center, meaning he’ll often be matched up with the 7-foot-1 Hawes, who has been relatively hot recently. Hawes is averaging 14.8 points on 50.9 percent shooting in the last four games.

Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. Sixers – C Andrew Bynum (knees) is out. PG Jrue Holiday (foot) is a game-time decision.

Up next: vs. Miami Heat, 8:30 p.m. Thursday

W2W4: Mavericks visit reeling Raptors

December, 14, 2012
There’s no such thing as a gimme game in the NBA, but this is about as close as it gets to one.

Rick Carlisle joins Galloway & Company live from Toronto to discuss the Mavs' double-overtime loss in Boston, O.J. Mayo's future as a Maverick and potential All-Star and the current state of the team.

Listen Listen
The Raptors have lost six straight games and 12 of their last 13. They’ll be missing their top two players, point guard Kyle Lowry and forward/center Andrea Bargnani, due to injuries.

The Mavs ought to be above .500 again by the time they cross the border.

Records: Mavs (11-11); Raptors (4-19)

When: 6:00 p.m.

Where: Air Canada Centre


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Vince Carter, the Raptors’ original franchise player, is a big story every time he goes back to Toronto. This is Carter’s first trip north of the border as a member of the Mavs, who didn’t play in Toronto during the lockout-compressed season. Carter has 24.1 points and 7.3 rebounds in 11 games as a visitor in the Air Canada Centre.

Key matchup: Mavs’ power forwards vs. Ed Davis – It’s likely that Shawn Marion starts at power forward again, but you never know until 16 minutes before tip with Rick Carlisle. Davis, a lottery pick in his third season, is coming off arguably the best game of his career with 24 points on 11-of-13 shooting and 12 rebounds in Wednesday’s loss to the Nets. Davis’ best game his rookie season came against the Mavs, when he had 17 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and three steals in an upset in Dallas.

Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. F Jae Crowder (flu-like symptoms) is questionable. Raptors – PG Kyle Lowry (triceps), SF Landry Fields (elbow) and PF/C Andrea Bargnani (elbow/wrist) are out. F Linas Kleiza (knee) is day-to-day.

Up next: at Minnesota Timberwolves, 7:00 p.m. Saturday
BOSTON – There will probably be some pregame hugs for Jason Terry.

Ben and Skin discuss the joys and torture of watching The Dallas Mavericks. The guys look at oddities in the NBA this season.

Listen Listen
Terry has moved on in Boston, averaging 11.4 points as a Celtics starter, but he’ll always be considered a Maverick by many. And he’ll certainly always be a champion, having played a huge role in the Mavs’ 2011 title run.

“He was special obviously,” said Mark Cuban, who laughed when he recalled refusing to approve a trade that would have sent Terry to Utah for Raul Lopez during his first year in Dallas. “He got off to a rough start, but he just worked all the time and we wouldn’t have had our ring without him. He caught a lot of grief, and he just kept on working harder and harder and harder.

“People blamed him when we didn’t win in the playoffs, but when it came time to shine, he shined. So you can’t say enough great things about Jet.”

Added coach Rick Carlisle: “Jet was an all-time great Mav. I have no doubt his number will be in the rafters at some point. Eight years with one franchise, a championship, the sacrifice he showed being willing to be a sixth man, basically a starter coming off the bench and giving the team that unusual, unique kind of punch just makes him a special kind of person and special kind of player.”

But this isn’t about warm, fuzzy feelings. This is a business trip for the Mavs, who are trying to win four consecutive games for the first time this season.

Records: Mavs (11-10); Celtics (11-9)

When: 7:00 p.m.

Where: TD Garden


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Can the Mavs sustain their success in this building? They’ve won their last three games at the TD Garden. Of course, Dirk Nowitzki had a lot to do with that, averaging 27.3 points in those games. The Mavs haven’t had much success against quality teams this season, with a 1-7 record vs. foes with a record of .500 or better.

Key matchup: Derek Fisher/Darren Collison vs. Rajon Rondo – If Rondo isn’t the best point guard in the NBA, it doesn’t take long to get to his name on the roll call. He’s easily leading the league in assists with 12.8 per game and also averages 13.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals. Rondo actually struggled against Collison last season, scoring only 17 points on 36.4 shooting in 93 minutes when they were both on the floor, with the Pacers outscoring the Celtics by 11 in that time. On the other hand, Rondo torched Fisher for 30 points on 13-of-19 shooting in 49 minutes (plus-13 for Celtics).

Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. F Jae Crowder (illness) is questionable. F Shawn Marion (groin) is playing. Celtics – G Avery Bradley (shoulder) is out.

Up next: at Toronto Raptors, 6 p.m. Friday

W2W4: Can Mavs spoil Suns' fun guarantee?

December, 6, 2012
Maybe the money-back guarantee wasn’t too big of a risk for the Suns’ marketing department.

Fans who don’t have fun tonight can get their ticket prices refunded. That’s not necessarily guaranteeing a win, but it’s not like the Mavs are tough to beat when they’re playing the butt end of back-to-backs.

The Mavs are 1-3 in such games this season. That includes a couple of lopsided loss, being blown out by 19 in Utah and 23 in Chicago.

The Mavs were on the wrong end of a rout against the Clippers last night, but their starters other than rookie Jae Crowder still played pretty heavy minutes. This could be an especially tough task for 38-year-old point guard Derek Fisher, who played 27 minutes in the first half of his first back-to-back of his season.

The Suns have certainly had their share of struggles this season, having just wrapped up a 1-5 road trip, but they are 5-3 at home.

Records: Mavs (8-10); Suns (7-12)

When: 9:30 p.m.

Where: US Airways Center


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: The Suns go as point guard Goran Dragic goes. His numbers from the Suns’ seven wins: 18.9 points, 52.5 field goal percentage, 50.0 3-point percentage, 7.4 assists. His numbers from the Suns’ dozen losses: 13.5 points, 44.5 field goal percentage, 29.4 3-point percentage, 6.1 assists per game. If Darren Collison struggles – particularly on the defensive end – it will be interesting to see if coach Rick Carlisle gives meaningful backup point guard minutes to Dominique Jones.

Key matchup: Chris Kaman vs. Marcin Gortat – The Mavs at least need Kaman to hold his own in the big man matchup. A big offensive night from Kaman, who has had three 20-point game this season, would be nice. It’s imperative, however, that he gives a solid defensive effort. Kaman has struggled with the Mavs’ pick-and-roll coverages, which require their big men to aggressively show and recover. Gortat, who averaged 15.4 points last season but has seen his scoring average dip almost four points per game, is at his best as a roll man.

Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. Suns – F Channing Frye (heart) is out.

Up next: at Houston Rockets, 7 p.m. Saturday

W2W4: Can Mavs contain Clippers' athletes?

December, 5, 2012
The Clippers’ big men jump over cars. The Mavs’ big men might be able to jump over a credit card.

The Mavs can’t match the athleticism of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, Lob City’s frontcourt finishers. For that matter, they’re at a major quickness disadvantage when Derek Fisher is defending Chris Paul.

The Mavs will have to figure out other ways to compete with the Clippers.

“These guys are as dynamic and athletic as they come, so we’re going to have to approach it with a team game,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “That’s how we have to do things. We’ve got to do things hard. We’ve got to do things together.”

Records: Mavs (8-9); Clippers (11-6)

When: 9:30 p.m.

Where: Staples Center


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Can O.J. Mayo keep the hot hand? He busted out of his first mini-slump as a Mav by lighting up the Pistons for 24 points in the second half of Saturday’s win. Mayo, the league’s eight-leading scorer at 20.2 points per game, is shooting the 3 with historic efficiency. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, among the 300 players who have attempted at least 80 3-pointers in the first 17 games of their season, Mayo has hit the highest percentage (52.7). The next 3 Mayo makes will be his 50th of the season, which would make him the fastest Mav to that milestone if it comes on this road trip.

Key matchup: Derek Fisher vs. Chris Paul – The 38-year-old Fisher was pleased with his conditioning in his first game of the season Saturday night. It’ll really get tested tonight, when he has to chase around arguably the NBA’s premier point guard. However, don’t totally dismiss the old head. The last time Fisher started against Paul, the Clippers’ star was held to four points in a loss to the Lakers, although Paul did have 12 assists and zero turnovers in that game last season.

Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. Clippers – F Grant Hill (knee) and F Trey Thompkins (knee) are out.

Up next: at Phoenix Suns, 9:30 p.m. Thursday

W2W4: Mavs try to climb back to .500

November, 28, 2012
The phrase, “We can’t [fill in the blank] when the playoffs start,” has been said several times in the Mavericks’ locker room.

They better start winning or they won’t have to worry about that.

Sure, it’s premature to panic about playoff positioning, but if the Mavs lose to the Chicago Bulls tonight, they’ll be under .500 at the latest point of a season since 1999-2000. That just happens to be the last season that the Mavericks landed in the lottery.

The Mavs are hoping to keep their heads above water until Dirk Nowitzki is ready to play, which will hopefully be in mid-December. After losing seven of their last 10 games, they need this win over a Bulls team that is also missing its superstar.

Records: Mavs (7-8); Bulls (6-7)

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Wells Fargo Center


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Will the Mavs play with energy a night after a down-to-the-wire loss? They are 1-2 in the butt end of back-to-backs this season. The Mavs have been guilty of allowing their offensive efficiency to impact their energy level too often this season. That can’t be the case against the Bulls, one of the NBA’s toughest defensive teams. This game isn’t going to be pretty. Can the Mavs grind out an ugly win?

Key matchup: Chris Kaman vs. Joakim Noah: Noah, an athletic center with Tasmanian Devil-like energy, is the kind of big man who can exploit the Mavs’ problems on the boards. He has had double-doubles three of the last four times he faced Kaman, including a 15-point, 16-rebound performance in their last meeting, a Bulls win over the Hornets. Kaman is coming off an efficient 20-point performance against the Sixers, but he’s been a nonfactor as a rebounder recently. Since grabbing a season-high 17 boards in last week’s loss to the Warriors, Kaman has only 12 rebounds in three games.

Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. Bulls – PG Derrick Rose (knee) is out.

Up next: vs. Detroit Pistons, 7:30 p.m. Saturday

W2W4: Mavs try to keep Lakers' road woes going

November, 24, 2012
DALLAS – The Lakers arrive in Dallas with heavy legs and looking for their first road win.

This will be L.A.’s fourth game in five nights. They left home with a three-game winning streak after Tuesday’s victory over the Brooklyn Nets, but got blown out the next night in Sacramento and dropped to 0-4 on the road with last night’s loss in Memphis.

With Steve Nash still recovering from a non-displaced fracture in his left leg, the Lakers’ star-studded frontcourt has struggled on this road trip.

Center Dwight Howard had only 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting in the two losses. He was especially awful against the Grizzlies, when he had seven points on 2-of-7 shooting and finished with more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four).

Power forward Pau Gasol has 14 points and 13 rebounds during the road trip so far, making only six of 18 shots from the floor.

Records: Mavs (7-6); Lakers (6-7)

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: American Airlines Center


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Can Brandan Wright give the Mavs an energy boost? He’s fallen out of favor with Rick Carlisle due to poor rebounding, getting a pair of DNP-CDs in the last five games, but his length and athleticism could help against the long Lakers’ frontcourt, especially with Troy Murphy battling an upper respiratory illness. Wright made an impact in the Mavs’ Oct. 30 win, scoring 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting, grabbing five rebounds and blocking three shots in 20 minutes.

Key matchup: Darren Collison vs. Darius Morris – Collison dominated his matchup with Nash during the Mavs’ season-opening win, scoring 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting while Nash looked lost in since-fired coach Mike Brown’s Princeton offense. The Mavs need him to get the best of Morris, the Lakers’ third-string point guard.

Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. PF Troy Murphy (illness) is probable. Lakers – PG Steve Nash (leg) is out. PG Steve Blake (abdominal strain) is day-to-day.

Up next: at Philadelphia 76ers, Tuesday, 6 p.m.

W2W4: Can Mavs contain Carmelo Anthony?

November, 21, 2012
DALLAS – The Mavericks’ soft stretch of the schedule is over. Here come Carmelo Anthony’s mighty New York Knicks.

Anthony lit up the Mavs for 31 points in the Knicks’ Nov. 9 win over the Mavs at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks present plenty of concerns, but they start with containing Anthony, the NBA’s fourth-leading scorer at 24.2 points per game.

“Right now, he might be the best player in the game if you look at their record, the stats that he’s putting up and all that kind of stuff,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s going to be an MVP candidate for sure.”

The Mavs didn’t have defensive stopper Shawn Marion for the previous meeting with the Knicks. Rookie Jae Crowder got the start and a rough lesson that night. The Mavs hope Marion’s experience and ability can make a difference.

“We’ve got to guard him better as a team,” Carlisle said. “Our position wasn’t good last game. Our individual position wasn’t what it needed to be. Consequently, our help couldn’t get there.”

Records: Mavs (6-6); Knicks (8-1)

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: American Airlines Center


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Will the Mavs get their butts kicked on the boards again? Carlisle has been ranting about rebounding since the preseason. He was especially strong about it after the Warriors had a 62-43 rebounding edge in Golden State’s win over the Mavs on Monday night. The Mavs actually outrebounded the Knicks, 50-43, earlier this month. They’ll probably have to do that again to have a legitimate chance to beat the team with the NBA’s best record.

Key matchup: O.J. Mayo vs. Jason Kidd: The crafty Kidd is likely to at least start the night defending the NBA’s seventh-leading scorer. Mayo got off to a hot start at Madison Square Garden, but he cooled off considerably after getting in early foul trouble, finishing with 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting and committing a season-high eight turnovers. The crafty Kidd caused some of Mayo’s issues that game, including drawing a charge that was Mayo’s third foul early in the second quarter.

Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. Knicks – PF Amar’e Stoudemire (knee) and G Iman Shumpert (knee) are out.

Up next: vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 7:30 p.m. Saturday

W2W4: Mavs prepared for 'physical' Warriors

November, 19, 2012
DALLAS – These aren’t the same ol’ soft Golden State Warriors coming to town.

The Mavericks have won 13 of the last 18 meetings against Golden State, but coach Rick Carlisle sees an opponent that is undergoing a transformation under second-year coach Mark Jackson, his former Knicks teammate.

“They’re extremely different than there were in the past because they’ve restructured the team,” Carlisle said. “They’re much more physical. They’re a top-five defensive (field goal percentage) team. They’ve got a different outlook with how they’re approaching it and they’ve done the right things. When you’re a top-five defensive team, you’re going to make progress.”

The Warriors might progress to the point where they can challenge for a playoff spot this season. That makes them a threat to the Mavs.

Records: Mavs (5-5); Warriors (5-5)

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: American Airlines Center


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Can the Mavs cut down on their turnovers? They had 22 on Saturday night in Cleveland, and the Cavaliers turned those into 30 points. Carlisle spent a good portion of Monday’s film session addressing the issue. “It’s an execution thing,” Carlisle said. “We’ve just got to make sure that we’re spaced right and make simple reads and the simplest play. Any time we try to get cute with it, it just doesn’t work out.”

Key matchup: Elton Brand vs. David Lee – Carlisle cited scoring in the paint as one of the keys to beat the Warriors. The Mavs need Brand to step up in that department. He’s only had two double-digit scoring games this season. Brand, whose toughness is valued by Carlisle, also has arguably the most difficult defensive assignment against Lee (15.5 points per game). Lee averaged 21.5 points against Brand’s Sixers last season, but he was far from efficient, shooting only 37.2 percent from the floor in the pair of Philadelphia wins.

Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. Warriors – C Andrew Bogut (ankle) and SG Brandon Rush (knee) are out. SF Richard Jefferson (calf) is questionable.

Up next: vs. New York Knicks, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

W2W4: Can Mavs cure road woes in Cleveland?

November, 17, 2012
The Mavs have been miserable on the road. If that doesn’t change in Cleveland, they’ll come home under .500.

Dallas’ lone road win came over the Los Angeles Lakers in the season opener at the Staples Center. They’ve lost four in a row away from the American Airlines Center since then. There were double-digit margins of defeat in three of those games, including Friday night’s 20-point blowout by the Pacers.

“We’re just not doing what we should be doing right now,” Shawn Marion said. “And everybody is guilty, including me.”

Records: Mavs (5-5); Cavaliers (2-6)

When: 6:30 p.m.

Where: Quicken Loans Arena


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: How much energy will the Mavs have during the butt end of a back-to-back? That’s especially important for Dallas’ thirtysomething frontcourt duo of Elton Brand and Chris Kaman. If they’re sluggish, Cleveland center Anderson Varejao will take advantage. He’s averaging 15.9 points and 13.7 rebounds and is coming off a 35-point, 18-board performance in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

Key matchup: Darren Collison vs. Kyrie Irving – This will be Collison’s toughest matchup so far this season. Irving, the Rookie of the Year last season, is quickly rising to level of the league’s elite point guards. He’s averaging 24.3 points and 6.5 assists per game. The Mavs go as Collison goes, and that hasn’t been good recently. He’s shooting only 38.6 percent from the floor during this stretch of four losses in the last five games.

Injuries: Mavs -- PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. Cavaliers -- F Luke Harangody (knee) is out.

Up next: vs. Golden State Warriors, 7:30 p.m. Monday

W2W4: Pacers struggling without their star

November, 16, 2012
Think the Mavericks miss Dirk Nowitzki? Maybe not as much as the Pacers missing Danny Granger.

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle talks about his coaching style, working with O.J. Mayo, his decision not to play Brandan Wright and more.

Listen Listen
With Granger as their star, the Pacers claimed the East’s third seed and gave the Heat a serious scare in the second round of the playoffs last season. With him sidelined for months by knee problems, the 3-6 Pacers are the NBA’s lowest-scoring team, averaging only 87.8 points per game, almost 10 fewer than they did last season.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the Mavs can afford to take Indiana lightly. After all, the Mavs have managed to lose to the Bobcats and injury-ravaged Timberwolves over the last week.

The Pacers’ size in particular presents a challenge to the Mavs. Indiana ranks third in the NBA in rebounding differential at plus-5.6 per game. Rebounding has been one of the Mavs’ biggest weaknesses, although the Mavs did outrebound the Wizards by six boards in Wednesday’s win with 7-footer Chris Kaman in the starting lineup.

Records: Mavs (5-4); Pacers (3-6)

When: 6 p.m.

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Roy Hibbert, the Pacers’ All-Star center, is off to an awful start (8.2 points, .386 field goal percentage). The Mavs can’t let him get well against them. That’s a legitimate concern because the Mavs have struggled against post-up players this week. They couldn’t stop Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic (20 points in 28 minutes) until he sprained his ankle. They couldn’t stop Washington’s Kevin Seraphin at all in Wednesday’s fourth quarter, when he had 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting. Hibbert and Kaman, whom the Pacers would have signed to a long-term deal if they opted not to match the offer Portland made to Hibbert as a restricted free agent, had mixed results in their battles last season. Hibbert had 30 points and 13 rebounds in Indiana’s Feb. 21 win over the Hornets. Less than two weeks later, Kaman held Hibbert without a field goal, although the Pacers still won the game.

Key matchup: Darren Collison vs. George Hill – This is definitely the matchup with the most intrigue. The Pacers considered Collison expendable after giving his starting job to Hill late last season. Collison, whom the Pacers shipped to Dallas along with Dahntay Jones in the Ian Mahinmi sign-and-trade deal, got off to a spectacular start with the Mavs but has struggled recently. Hill has also been up and down this season. He’s averaging 14.7 points and 4.7 assists -- highlighted by a 29-point, seven-assist performance against the Timberwolves last week -- but is coming off a three-point, 1-of-10 stinker in Wednesday’s loss to the Bucks.

Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. F Shawn Marion (knee) expects to play. C/F Brandan Wright (illness) should be available. Pacers – SF Danny Granger (knee) is out. PF David West (ankle) is day-to-day.

Up next: at Cleveland Cavaliers, 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Tough break for people who bought tickets for this game.

Most of the marquee attractions will either be wearing a suit while sitting on the Mavs’ bench or watching from their couch in Minnesota.

No Dirk Nowitzki or Shawn Marion for the Mavs. No Kevin Love or Ricky Rubio for the Timberwolves, who are also missing key contributors J.J. Barea and Chase Budinger.

But it’s still a game featuring two teams with winning records, which could be considered a major surprise considering how heavily the Mavs and T-Wolves depend on their All-Star power forwards who have yet to play a minute this season.

The Mavs need a win to stay above .500 and to stop the bleeding after an 0-2 road trip. The Mavs are 3-0 at the American Airlines Center this season.

Records: Mavs (4-3); Timberwolves (4-2)

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: American Airlines Center


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: If the Mavs get a chance, can they close against the Timberwolves? That’s a huge question mark after the Mavs’ debacle down the stretch allowed the Bobcats to beat Dallas for the first time in 17 tries. “We’ve got a long to learn about winning,” coach Rick Carlisle said Saturday night. “This was a painful lesson.”

Key matchup: Jae Crowder vs. Andrei Kirilenko -- Crowder, the rookie second-rounder filling in for Marion as a starter, is coming off a rough road trip. New York’s Carmelo Anthony (31 points, seven rebounds) and Charlotte’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (25 points, 12 rebounds) put up big numbers in wins over the Mavs. Crowder had a total of 11 points and four rebounds during the 0-2 trip. Kirilenko, the longtime member of the Jazz who played last season in his native Russia, is a versatile player who the Timberwolves need to step up as a scorer. He’s an excellent rebounder for a small forward, averaging 7.7 per game this season, which could be especially troubling for the Mavs.

Injuries: Mavs -- PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) and F Shawn Marion (knee) are out. Timberwolves -- PF Kevin Love (hand), PG Ricky Rubio (knee), G J.J. Barea (foot) and F Chase Budinger (knee) are out. SG Brandon Roy (knee) is questionable.

Up next: vs. Washington Wizards, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
NEW YORK – This should be a fun Friday night of basketball.

ESPN NBA analyst Marc Stein joins Ben and Skin to talk all things Mavericks basketball.

Listen Listen
It’d be better if the Mavs had as many (or any) starters from their 2011 title team as the Knicks do. However, Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion will stay home to nurse their knees, while Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd wear the Knicks’ blue and orange.

Nevertheless, two of the NBA’s most explosive teams so far this season will meet at Madison Square Garden.

The surprising Mavs, with 25-year-old guards Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo playing starring roles, rank second in the NBA in scoring with 108.4 points per game. The Knicks, led by Carmelo Anthony, rank third with 104.7 points per game.

The Mavs and Knicks are the NBA’s top two 3-point-shooting teams so far. The Mavs have shot 48.5 percent from behind the arc and have made 50 3-pointers. The Knicks set an NBA record for 3-pointers made in the first three games of a season with 43 and are shooting 43.5 percent from long range.

An argument can be made that the Mavs’ success has been fools’ gold, as the four teams Dallas has defeated have a combined record of 5-13. The Mavs can quiet that talk against the undefeated Knicks, whom Rick Carlisle is referring to as a legitimate championship contender.

With former Mavs center Tyson Chandler serving as the backbone, the Knicks lead the NBA in scoring defense (85.3 points per game) and average point differential (19.4).

Records: Mavs (4-1); Knicks (3-0)

When: 6:30 p.m.

Where: Madison Square Garden


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Can the Mavs keep running? They’ve gone from one of the league’s least efficient transition teams last season to one of the best so far this season. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Mavs are one of six teams in the NBA with at least 80 transition plays and are averaging 1.2 points on those possessions. The Mavs averaged 1.06 points per transition possession last season, which ranked 29th in the NBA.

Key matchup: Tyson Chandler vs. Chris Kaman – It’s a matchup of the big man Mavs fans hated to see leave and the big man they’ve recently welcomed with open arms. Kaman was outstanding offensively in his first few games as a Mav, averaging 18 points on 70.6 percent shooting. Chandler, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, will be by far Kaman’s biggest challenge. Chandler continues to be a remarkably efficient complementary offensive piece, leading the NBA in field goal percentage (.679) last season and improving that clip slightly so far this year. Chandler has held Kaman to an average of 10.2 points on 38.8 percent shooting in 13 career meetings, eight of which were won by Chandler’s team.

Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) and F Shawn Marion (knee) are out. G Rodrigue Beaubois (ankle) is questionable. Knicks – PF Amar’e Stoudemire (knee) and G Iman Shumpert (knee) are out.

Up next: at Charlotte Bobcats, 6:30 p.m., Saturday
DALLAS -- The red flag waved all preseason, so it wasn’t a surprise that the Dallas Mavericks got dominated on the glass by the Utah Jazz.

It is a huge concern, however.

The boards are the Mavs’ primary focus entering their home opener against the Charlotte Bobcats. No team can afford to have a 21-rebound deficit, as the Mavs did in their loss to the Jazz, but especially not a team missing its lone All-Star.

“We’ve got to work on it,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We did rebounding drills in practice, which nobody in the NBA likes doing, because they’re physical and guys are flying all over the place and stuff like that. But we have no choice now. We have to get that in our collective mindset. It’s got to be a team responsibility.”

As bad as the Bobcats might be, they feature a big frontcourt with ex-Mav Brendan Haywood joined by fellow 7-footer Byron Mullens and rugged rookie small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Mullens grabbed 19 rebounds and Kidd-Gilchrist had 10 in a preseason loss to the Mavs.

Records: Mavs (1-1); Bobcats (1-0)

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: American Airlines Center


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Break up the Bobcats! Charlotte won its season opener, 90-89, over the Indiana Pacers sans Danny Granger, snapping a 23-game losing streak. A win over the Mavs would give the Bobcats consecutive victories for the first time since the final two games of the 2010-11 season. It’d also be the first time the Bobcats beat the Mavs, as Dallas is 15-0 against Charlotte. Second-year point guard Kemba Walker starred Friday night, scoring 30 points. Walker and sixth man Ben Gordon are the capable of carrying the Bobcats if they get hot.

Key matchup: Chris Kaman vs. Brendan Haywood -- The Mavs’ new big man will make his Dallas debut against the center the Mavs waived via the amnesty clause after acquiring Kaman. There’s no question that Kaman is a tremendous offensive upgrade over Haywood, but that might not be evident immediately. Kaman could need some time to get in sync with the Mavs’ offense after sitting out three weeks with a strained right calf. More than anything, the Mavs need their only active 7-footer to hold his own on the glass.

Injuries: Mavs -- PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. C Chris Kaman (calf) is expected to play. Bobcats -- None.

Up next: vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 7:30 p.m., Monday



Dirk Nowitzki
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
ReboundsD. Nowitzki 6.2
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9