Game Preview: Mavericks Head to Denver to Take on Struggling Nuggets

Maxi Kleber

Getty Maxi Kleber celebrates after a big play against the Houston Rockets.

As the Dallas Mavericks celebrate their three-game winning streak, they’ll now head to Denver to take on the Nuggets, who have lost two consecutive contests. It will be a matchup betweent two teams that should both be near the top of the NBA standings at the end of the season.

The Mavs are currently third in the Western Conference with a record of 3-1, while the Nuggets sit at seventh with a 2-2 record.

On Friday night, the Mavs will hit the road as they take on the Nuggets in Denver. At 10:00PM ET, the teams will tip off at the Ball Arena.

It will be a tough back-to-back for the Mavericks, who caught a plane right after Thursday night’s game.

“It’s a tough back-to-back flying to Denver, but we got to do the same thing, just come up with a lot of energy and play hard,” said Maxi Kleber following Thursday night’s game. “It’s going to be a stretch that we have to fight through, but I think if our shot is not falling, we still have the talent, we’ve showed them that we can play better defense. If we keep doing that consistently, we don’t have to worry about our shot making.”

The Mavericks will play against Nuggets three total times this season, as they’re both in the Western Conference. Last season, Dallas won two of their three contests against Denver.

What will it take to pull of their fourth-straight win?

Avoiding Slow Starts

The Mavericks had an extremely slow start against the Spurs last game, but were able to climb out of the hole. In fact, they started the game down 25-5 early in the first quarter. It was the first 20-point comeback for Dallas in over a year.

“We got off to a slow start,” said Jason Kidd. “I didn’t think we would get off to that slow of a start, but it happens in this league. The character of that bench, the team playing… they just came in and gave us an energy that was much needed. From that point on, we started to get into the game. So, we just have to talk about it and address it.”

Luka Doncic chalked it up to a bad start, saying there was no energy and that the team was just playing sloppy. “We shouldn’t let this happen again,” said Doncic. “It was a terrible sight.”

Either way, they pulled off the win. Maxi Kleber came up big with six blocks while Jalen Brunson came off the bench for 19 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.

Doncic started slow but ended up leading the team in scoring for his fourth consecutive game this season. He finished with 25 points while scoring 18 of his 25 in the second half, including eight-straight points down the stretch in the final frame.

Against a more talented Nuggets team, this won’t be acceptable. While the Mavericks were able to come back against a rebuilding Spurs team, coming out that cold against a team like Denver will result in a loss with how talented they are.

Keys to the Game

The Mavs continue to improve as a 3-point shooting team, but are still in the bottom third of the league in terms of percentage. However, they’ve found a way to still score the necessary points from other levels of the floor to pull off wins.

Dallas (48.4 per game) is a much better rebounding team than Denver (42.3 per game), meaning the battle on the glass could ultimately play a big factor in this matchup.

GettyDenver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.

The Nuggets do have a pesky defense, producing the sixth most steals in the NBA this season with 9.5 per game. This will be an interesting test for the Mavericks, who commit the fourth fewest turnovers in the league with just 13.0 per contest.

Overall, this game could just come down to the superstars. Who will have a better performance between Doncic and Nikola Jokic? The reigning MVP will protect his home court in Denver, as he’s averaged 26.8 points, 13.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game this season.

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