The Mavericks could be catching San Antonio at a good time. The Spurs are never easy to beat at home -- they're 18-4 -- but it certainly doesn't hurt to roll in on a night when leading scorer Tony Parker won't be in the lineup.
Parker strained a hamstring Wednesday night and has been ruled out for Friday's game, less than a week after the Mavs beat San Antonio in Dallas with their own depleted roster. The Spurs are also likely to be without backup center Tiago Splitter (back) and 3-point specialist Matt Bonner (back).
The Mavs will be thrilled to get Shawn Marion back in the lineup. He's been out for three games with a sore left knee. He'll give Dallas a strong defender to throw at Manu Ginobili, who figures to have the ball a lot in his hands with Parker sidelined.
And this is a big game for Dallas, which plays at Houston on Saturday night. The Rockets have won two in a row, are 18-6 at home and just one game back of Dallas in the loss column.
Records: Mavs (27-21); Spurs (30-14)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: AT&T Center
TV: FSSW, NBA TV
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: With Shawn Marion expected back in the starting lineup tonight, does Rick Carlisle continue to start Rodrigue Beaubois at shooting guard or does he return Vince Carter to the spot? Beaubois is coming off a soft performance against the Lakers and, remember, the starting unit of Jason Kidd, Carter, Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Brendan Haywood (who remains out with the a sprained right knee) ranks as the best defensive unit in basketball.
Key matchup: Stephen Jackson vs. Vince Carter
Captain Jack loves to play against the Mavs and with Tony Parker out there will probably be more shots coming his way. Jackson scored 16 points in 22 minutes in his home debut with the Spurs on Wednesday against Minnesota. On the start of a back-to-back-to-back and considering coach Gregg Popovich's penchant for resting key players, it's likely that Jackson gets a lot more time tonight, and with Shawn Marion likely to get plenty of duty on Manu Ginobili, Carter could be the man to check the rugged -- and streaky -- Jackson.
Injuries: Mavs - F Shawn Marion (sore left knee) is probable; G Delonte West (fractured right ring finger) is out; CBrendan Haywood (sprained right knee) is out. Spurs - G Tony Parker (left hamstring) is out; C Tiago Splitter (back) is doubtful; F Matt Bonner (back spasms) is questionable.
Up next: Mavs at Houston Rockets, 7 p.m., Saturday