Game Preview: Mavericks (2-5) at Warriors (5-2)Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at 9:30 PM CT at Oracle Arena
Harrison Barnes is awesome. For the third time in seven games, HB went over 30 points against the Lakers on Tuesday (he had one such game in his career prior to joining the Mavericks). Now, Harrison makes his return to Oracle to take on the 5-2 Warriors. Last season the Mavericks finished 1-3 against the Warriors, handing Golden State one of their nine losses on December 30th. The Mavs hope to stretch their current win streak to three games in HB’s return to Oakland.
This Warriors team was dubbed one of the greatest of all time before they even stepped on the court. However, their struggles early have exposed the gaping holes in their roster that were left open in the signing of Kevin Durant. They lack true depth, as Harrison “The Black Falcon” Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Leandro Barbosa, Festus Ezeli, and Marreese Speights all skipped town to sign bigger contracts, while Golden State weakened their bench by signing Zaza Pachulia, Damian Jones, Patrick McCaw, a 37-year-old David West, and JaVale McGee to fill the gaps. While they try to straighten things out, they’ve already dropped 2 games – something they didn’t do until December 30th last season (at the hands of the Mavs, I might add). However, when their first group is on the floor they look ridiculously good. Steph is still Steph, and he proved that Monday when he throttled a winless New Orleans Pelicans squad for an NBA record 13 threes. Kevin Durant is trying to make his case for MVP as well, averaging 28.9 points and 7.3 rebounds through 7 games. Draymond Green is still a triple-double threat every night out, as he’s currently averaging 9.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per contest. While Zaza surprised a lot of people in Dallas, he’s underwhelming and doesn’t quite fit into the GSW system, averaging 4.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. And then there’s Klay Thompson. Poor Klay just doesn’t fit in. Three’s a crowd, right? Well then what’s four? There’s just not enough shots to go around for Klay to put in the same kind of productivity as he did last season. His points per game averages have fallen from 22 to 17, and even though he’s had two good games of 28 and 24 points he’s struggling to score that consistently with 5 games of 10-14 points. On top of that, he’s allowing opponents to score 112 points against him per 100 possessions, significantly higher than he’s ever posted. The Warriors have shown weaknesses rebounding the ball and on team defense, currently allowing the 5th most points against in the league.
Man, I really like this team. The Mavs have finally found a group that can be effective together: the “Golden State B-Team” lineup. Call it what you want, it works. The Mavericks have been searching for a group that can work together both offensively and defensively, and actually be effective and it looks like they’ve found it. With HB, Bogut, and Seth on the floor the Mavs found consistent success. Seth Curry has been deserving of significant minutes all season, and last night he proved it front and center. After his 23-point performance, there’s no doubt that Seth means business. On top of that, it looks like starting Finney-Smith instead of Justin Anderson gave young Simba the push he needed, as he had one of his most efficient nights this season. As we move on to face Golden State tonight, the Mavs definitely have a challenge ahead of them. However, this team has proven to be a good defensive squad (11th best in the league) and in the past two games they’ve had the offense to go with it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Seth get the start tonight. I would expect Seth and J.J. to start in the backcourt, even though I feel J.J. may have reduced minutes because he’s a terrible mismatch on Steph or Klay. Additionally, Wesley and HB will start at the three and four spots matching up with KD and Draymond respectively. Lastly, Andrew Bogut will tip off at the five, swapping sides with Zaza Pachulia from last season’s matchup. Defensive stoppers like Justin Anderson and Dorian Finney-Smith should see considerate play time because of their size and athleticism, especially facing a team like the Warriors. Last night, Rick didn’t dip into his bench very much (only three bench players saw play time) and I wouldn’t expect to see anything much different tonight, as the Mavs look to knock off the Warriors on the road.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Keep feeding HB the rock! Look what happens when this man gets going! It seems like he’s adding 30 point games every time he steps on the floor. Last night, HB had a true shooting percentage of 70.6% which is ridiculously efficient. Tonight, he’s going back to Golden State and you know he wants to show them what they could’ve had. Get this man the ball.
2. Roll with the Warriors 2.0 lineup more. JJ, Seth, Wes, HB, and Bogut together just look like something special. They seem to have a chemistry together that we haven’t seen all season. The five of them had a combined plus-minus of +69, all other Mavs had a combined -9. Keep them together and let’s ride this out.
3. Don’t let Steph, KD, or Klay have anything easy. Goodness, please. These guys only need one or two easy looks to get rolling, and when they get rolling it isn’t pretty. Individually speaking, the Mavs do a good job defensively, and tonight it’s even more important than ever to win the defensive battle.
Golden State Warriors
– Damian Jones (Pectoral) OUT
– Dirk Nowitzki (Achilles) OUT
– Deron Williams (Calf) OUT
– Devin Harris (Toe) OUT
Written by: Spencer Forsyth