The Dallas Mavericks (17-37) fell just short of getting a rare winning streak going as they fell 104-101 to the Los Angeles Clippers. Even without the injured Harrison Barnes, the Mavs actually had the lead heading into the fourth quarter. However, they couldn’t quite sustain it as they dropped to 2-9 over their last 11 games. Wes Matthews starred in Barnes’ absence. The veteran dropped 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting from downtown. Devin Harris had 16 points off the bench, while Dirk Nowitzki, Dennis Smith Jr. and J.J. Barea all chipped with 12.
Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors (41-13) continued their awful start to the month as they were handed a 125-105 shellacking by the Oklahoma City Thunder. It’s the first time the Warriors have dropped back-to-back games all season. Coach Steve Kerr said a few games ago that his team is “mentally fried” and they’ve certainly looked that way. They committed a whopping 25 turnovers against the Thunder, which led to 26 more shot attempts for OKC. Kevin Durant continued his recent hot streak with 33 points in just 30 minutes, while Stephen Curry added 21 points, five rebounds, and five assists.
Three keys to the game
Warriors mindset - The Warriors clearly aren’t at their best right now. They’ve given up 115 or more points in three of their four games this month, and haven’t been able to generate the offense to compensate. But they’ll likely be desperate not to lose a third game in row, which hasn’t happened in forever, and especially not in front of their home fans.
Outside shooting - The Mavs very nearly pulled an upset on the Warriors the last time they met and they did it with some red-hot outside shooting. They hit 19-of-43 from beyond the arc and scored 122 points. That’s been the outlier in their three meetings with the Warriors this season. However, they did go 17-of-42 against the Clippers and the weary Warriors could end up allowing a similar percentage.
Kevin Durant - Durant has just about been the lone Warrior who has been playing consistently well of late. He has also been close to unstoppable in their games against the Mavs this season. However, KD is questionable to feature against Dallas due to a left hand injury. If the Warriors are to ensure that they snap their rare losing skid, they’ll need their superstar to play and deliver another strong performance.
Matchup to watch
Wesley Matthews vs Klay Thompson - Matthews has been an inconsistent player for virtually the entire season, but when he’s got it going on from the outside, he can be deadly. He helped torch the Warriors from the outside in their last meeting as he went 7-of-10 on 3-pointers. He’ll need to get the better of Klay Thompson in their matchup, especially with Thompson consistently getting the better of Matthews in their first three matchups.
Mavericks projected starting lineup
PG - Dennis Smith Jr. | SG - Wesley Matthews | SF - Harrison Barnes | PF - Dwight Powell | C - Dirk Nowitzki
Warriors projected starting lineup
PG - Stephen Curry | SG - Klay Thompson | SF - Kevin Durant | PF - Draymond Green | C - Zaza Pachulia
While Matthews has struggled to string together consecutive strong fantasy games too often, he remains a big threat to go off. He’s been outstanding in two out of three games against Golden State this season, including a 22-point, seven 3-pointer performance in their most recent meeting.
As for the Warriors, the Splash Brothers figure to benefit fantasy-wise if Durant does miss out. Curry has had good success in the two times he's gone against the Mavs, averaging 30.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.5 steals. Thompson has also been very impressive against them and is putting up 23.7 points on a sizzling 57 percent shooting from the field.
It seems unfathomable to think this Warriors team will lose three straight games. Even without Durant, there's too much talent and too much pride for this team to let that happen at home. However, Durant's absence would significantly increase Dallas' chance of at least covering the spread in this game, so it'll be wise to keep an eye on his status.
Durant sits out, but the Splash Brothers come to the Warriors' rescue as they get the 112-105 win.
This game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Bay Area and Fox Sports Southwest. Tip-off is at 10:30 pm Eastern.