The Pelicans ended a two-game losing skid on Sunday with a resounding 108-89 win over an injury ravaged Boston side. Thirty-four points and 11 rebounds from Anthony Davis and a 61-40 second half led New Orleans to the victory. They now sit in a tie for sixth place in the Western Conference with a 40-30 record, just 2.5 games from ninth place, but only a couple of games from the Thunder in fourth.
The Mavericks lost their second in a row when they went down to Brooklyn on Saturday. Dennis Smith Jr had 21 points and Yogi Ferrell dished out 12 assists, but the Nets’ offense was able to score with too much consistency. Dallas have worked their way off the bottom of the standings, but still sit in 13th place with a 22-48 record.
Three keys to the game
Stopping Davis - Davis is one of the best scorers in the game, and a large portion of his points come inside the paint. The Mavericks have actually been one of the best sides in the league at restricting this form of scoring, allowing just 41.5 points in the paint per game, and they will have to continue this trend if they want to stop one of the league's in-form players from putting up huge numbers.
Can Dallas win away from home? - Recent form suggests they can’t. The Mavericks haven’t been good on the road all season, winning just eight of their 34 road games, and it has gotten worse in recent weeks. Of their past 14 road games they have won just two, and these wins came against the lowly Kings and the Knicks.
Rebounding - This is an area of weakness for both sides, particularly the Mavericks. They sit in dead last in the NBA for rebounding percentage, grabbing just 47.5% of available boards. The Pelicans aren’t a lot better, with their 49.1% placing them 22nd in the league, but they will be confident they have an edge over the Mavs in this department.
Matchup to watch
Anthony Davis vs Dirk Nowitzki - One of the greatest power forwards in league history will go head to head with a guy who may one day enter that very same conversation. Nowitzki averages a career-low 12.3 points this season, but the man is sixth in all-time scoring in the league, and remarkably is shooting a career-high 42.7% from long range.
Davis is still just 25, and in the past couple of months has had probably the best stretch of games in his career. In February he averaged 35.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.5 steals, and 2.2 blocks. This month he is contributing an incredible 3.9 blocks to go with his 27.3 points and 11.8 boards a night. Nowitzki might be one of the greatest of all time, but Davis will expect to put on a clinic against the German superstar on Tuesday night.
New Orleans Pelicans predicted starting lineup
PG - Rajon Rondo | SG - Jrue Holiday | SF - E’Twaun Moore | PF - Anthony Davis | C - Emeka Okafor
Dallas Mavericks predicted starting lineup
PG - Dennis Smith Jr | SG - Kyle Collinsworth | SF - Doug McDermott | PF - Dirk Nowitzki | C - Dwight Powell
Davis has been a problem for Dallas in all three of the matchups between these sides this season. In these games, he averages 28.7 points on 51.7% shooting, 10.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 2.0 blocks. His career numbers against the Mavs are pretty good, too. In 19 games against them, he averages 25.1 points, 11.1 boards, 2.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.6 blocks. In the form he is in, expect him to have another big one in this game.
The Mavericks have been given a 9.0-point head start by oddsmakers, and the Pelicans should be able to cover this. Dallas often put in gritty performances and keep their losses to single figures, but they’ve been woeful on the road all season, and even more so of late. New Orleans should win this by a double figure margin.
The Mavericks won’t cause too many headaches for a Pelicans side which has much more on the line. New Orleans need to keep winning, not just to remain in a playoff position, but to remain in the top six, and avoid a first round matchup against either the Rockets or the Warriors.
Davis will be far too much for the Mavericks to handle, and he will score 35-plus points and grab 15-plus rebounds to lead his side to victory. Holiday, too, has been playing like an All-Star for much of the past couple of months, so expect him to cause problems for the young Smith Jr. New Orleans will have too much class for Dallas in this game, and will run out 111-99 victors.
The game will be broadcast locally on FSNOLA and FSSW. Tip-off is at 8pm ET.