Week ahead: Mavs start road-intensive stretch
The Mavs will be away from the American Airlines Center five of the next six games and eight of the next 10.
But let’s just focus on this week, beginning with a road back-to-back, instead of looking too far ahead.
Philadelphia 76ers (6 p.m. Tuesday, Wells Fargo Center): It will be Elton Brand's first trip back to Philadelphia since the Sixers used the amnesty clause to let him go, a move that would look much better if Andrew Bynum's bad knees cooperated. The 8-6 Sixers are a couple of games above .500 in large part because point guard Jrue Holiday, Darren Collison's former UCLA backcourt mate, is blossoming into an All-Star candidate. The 22-year-old Holliday, a big point guard at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, is averaging 18.6 points and 9.2 assists and is coming off a 33-point, 13-assist performance in Sunday’s win over the Suns.
Chicago Bulls (7 p.m. Wednesday, United Center): With superstar Derrick Rose recovering from knee surgery, the 6-6 Bulls have to win ugly. They’re capable of doing that because coach Tom Thibodeau’s team is among the defensive elite again, ranking third in the NBA in points allowed per possession. Luol Deng (17.8 points per game) is the closest thing the Bulls have to a legitimate go-to guy with Rose out. Led by athletic big man Joakim Noah, the Bulls could present big problems on the boards, especially with the Mavs playing the butt end of a back-to-back.
Detroit Pistons (7:30 p.m. Saturday, American Airlines Center): Detroit is a dreadful team, but the 3-11 Pistons can be dangerous on any given night. They have wins by 18 points over the 76ers and by 20 points over the Celtics. Young center Greg Monroe (17.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists per game) has been the Pistons’ biggest bright spot. Among their biggest problems are the struggles of guard Rodney Stuckey, who has been one of their best players in recent years but is shooting in the low 30s this season.
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