The Dallas Mavericks (5-3) host the Brooklyn Nets (4-6) tonight at American Airlines Center. An unusually late tip at 8:45 p.m. will start a rematch of their fight in Brooklyn ten days ago. The Mavericks won that contest in overtime, 129-125.
The Mavericks are on a three-game winning streak after hanging on to Toronto 111-110. Luka Doncic has scored 35 points, breaking the 30-point mark in the first eight games of the season. The list of players to start a season this way is succinct and historic – Luka and Wilt.
The Nets beat the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, 98-94, in a low-scoring affair. Much like their opener, Dallas catches Brooklyn on the second night in a row. These schedule breaks were numerous but soon dried up. The Mavericks need to capitalize on this one.
Luka’s streak isn’t just about scoring
Doncic’s hot start to the first eight games isn’t limited to records and MVP buzz. The Mavericks are winning games because of it. This season, Luka is outperforming in almost every facet of the game. First in scoring, first in player efficiency rating, sixth in assists, eighth in steals and top 25 in rebounds.
The question to ask as Dallas enters Game 9 is twofold. Can Luka maintain his impeccable game for another game? Perhaps more importantly, do the Mavericks have what it takes to take over if Luka has anything less than another stellar performance? The slow starts of Reggie Bullock, Maxi Kleber and Tim Hardaway Jr. make this question loom large.
Brooklyn in disarray
In the short time that has passed since the Mavericks last met the Nets on the court, Brooklyn has descended into chaos an order of magnitude far beyond the uncertainty that has draped the start of their season. Jacques Vaughn is interim coach as the Nets left Steve Nash. Ben Simmons is struggling with a knee injury and Kyrie Irving is suspended – mired in a controversy of his own making.
That leaves Kevin Durant leading the Nets for the foreseeable future. After an offseason of trade speculation and improvised reconciliation, one has to wonder if this is a sum of all fears for the Nets that will result in a potential midseason trade. In the meantime, Durant has become even more dodgy than usual.
Kevin Durant visibly frustrated when asked about his 6 turnovers tonight:
“Every night I’m going to be guarded by five players, so I’m going to turn the ball over… The whole team is going to be guarding me throughout the season, so get used to my turnovers.” pic.twitter.com/4XUOOO1AW9
— Erik Slater (@erikslater_) November 2, 2022
The fourth trimester leads to evaporation
Keep an eye on the Q4 stream. The Mavericks struggled to maintain their lead on the stretch. Because of this, several semi-comfortable tracks turned into nail biters. It’s been a convergence of defensive issues in the final six minutes and an offense that our own Kirk Henderson has begun to call “preventing the offense.”
The Mavs had just enough to overtake the Raptors. Will the Nets send this one or make it interesting late in the fourth quarter when Dallas proved to be most vulnerable?
where to watch
Catch the Mavs and Nets with a later-than-usual whistleblower hour of 8:45 p.m. on Bally Sports Southwest and NBA TV.