Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets Preview
The Dallas Mavericks will travel to the Pepsi Center to battle the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night. The Mavericks come into the contest with a record of 2-1 after a disappointing loss on Sunday against the Portland Trailblazers. Before that game, they won a pair of contests against expected bottomfeeder teams (Wizards and Pelicans) so going on the road to play against teams with playoff aspirations like the Blazers and the Nuggets is a good early test for this young Mavericks team.
The Denver Nuggets are undefeated at 3-0 with wins over the Blazers, a narrow one-point win against the better than expected Phoenix Suns and a victory against the Sacramento Kings. The Nuggets and their fans had to sit back and watch all the talk about both Los Angeles teams being the best in the West, but the Nuggets were the two seed last season at 54-28 and might have the deepest team of all the contenders.
Time: 9 PM ET
Arena: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
Channel: FSSW-DAL, ALT
Mavericks: Dwight Powell (O)
Nuggets: Bol Bol (O)
Dallas Mavericks Starting Lineup
The Luka-Show is rolling through for an encore and I am all for it. Luka Doncic has come out of the gates with something to prove. Through the Maverick’s first three games, the second-year guard out of Slovenia is turning in a stat line of 29-10-7. A lot is made of Doncic’s playmaking ability, and rightfully so, but his penchant for grabbing rebounds and pushing the tempo is underrated. Doncic looks more comfortable on the court, which is saying something considering how comfortable he looked during his rookie year. His outside shot isn’t falling with any kind of consistency (just 31 percent) but he’s doing everything else on the court well, including getting to the free-throw line (8.0 attempts per game).
Doncic’s long-awaited running mate Kristaps Porzingis has settled in nicely into the Mavericks system. One of the first to be dubbed a “unicorn” Porzingis looks like he hasn’t missed a step. Despite having not played in an NBA game since early 2018 the 7-3 sharpshooting big man is putting up some gaudy numbers. He’s averaging 26 points per game along with 2.7 blocks, all while shooting 41 percent from the 3-point line. The Unicorn is back.
The Mavericks supporting cast will have to step up for this game. Playing in Denver’s altitude is a struggle for any player, so the Mavericks will need at least one of the six guys averaging between seven and 11 points per game to provide a bigger offensive boost to help alleviate some of the pressure on Doncic and Porzingis.
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup
The Denver Nuggets are off to the kind of start that is excepted from a contending team. The Nuggets will come into this matchup with a 3-0 record and a top-10 defense. Their offense has seemed clunky at times but the Nuggets are ninth in defensive efficiency (100.3) and fifth in opponent 3-point percentage (29 percent). That’s great news for Nuggets fans if they can keep the defensive intensity up through the season because this team is too talented to continue laboring on the offensive end.
Their last game, a 101-94 win against the winless Kings was not pretty. The Nuggets shot 36 percent from the field and 28 percent from the 3-point line. Yikes. But holding a team that pushes the pace at every opportunity to only 94 points is a recipe for a win despite those shooting woes. Jamal Murray, who is averaging 19 points, five rebounds and four assists per game, but shooting only 38 percent, acknowledged just how important their defense has been so far.
“Our defense has been our anchor,” Murray said. “It’s been what’s won us (games). Guys have to know we’re a defensive team first. We can all score. We can all shoot. But defense is clearly how to win games.”
There’s no doubt in my mind the Nuggets will find their footing on the offensive end of the floor–Nikola Jokic won’t continue to shoot in the low 40s from–but just how long that takes, and can their defense keep winning them games is the real question. This matchup will be the perfect test for that question; the Mavericks will come into the contest the fifth-ranked offense, and the Nuggets are playing on the second night of a back-to-back. I expect to see a lot of huffing and puffing.
Key Player Matchups
Kristaps Porzingis vs. Nikola Jokic
I mean what else could you ask for. Doncic will for sure be a thrill to watch throughout the night, but there’s a good chance the Nuggets use a by-committee strategy to defend him. I could see Porzingis and Jokic having a game within the game type of night. Porzingis will have to find Jokic in transition and help provide pressure so Jokic isn’t free to sling pinpoint dimes to his cutting guards, and Jokic will be tested defending the pick-and-roll all night.
Luka Doncic vs. Jamal Murray
The Luka Doncic hype was proven appropriate last year. Things have not died down yet. If Doncic didn’t play in the West I’d pencil him in as a lock as an all-star. We could even argue about him being an all-NBA guy already. That’s how good he’s been three games into the season. Both Murray and Doncic line up at the lead guard roles and Murray isn’t a tiny guard by any means (6-4, 207 pounds), but I expect that as the game wears on the Nuggets will deploy Torey Craig, Will Barton and maybe even Jerami Grant to slow down Doncic. This will be a pick-and-roll heavy matchup with the Murray/Jokic pairing going head-to-head with the Doncic/Porzingis tandem.
Delon Wright vs. Gary Harris
This is a matchup with the least amount of fanfare, but don’t ignore it. Both are versatile guards who can guard bigger wings. Wright because of his wingspan and Harris because of his quick feet and anticipation. Wright has been a pleasant surprise for the Mavericks–in 25 minutes of action, he is shooting 75 percent from three and averaging less than a turnover per game. He has been the perfect compliment to Doncic and Porzingis. I doubt Harris ever replicates his stellar 2017-18 season in which he averaged 17.5 points per game on 48-39-82 shooting numbers, but he’s off to a great start shooting the ball and defending, and that’s all the Nuggets could ask for.
For your daily fantasy news, Luka Doncic leads the way coming into today’s matchup. Doncic is rolling on the offensive end, seemingly in control of everything. He’s available for $10.4k on Fan Duel with expected fantasy points set at 47.7. Doncic is always a safe bet to hit his projected points because his rebounding and assisting stats will always be there. At the middle-tier value, we have Jamal Murray. Murray is technically a point guard but a lot of his fantasy points come from his scoring output. He’s available for $7.6k on FanDuel with projected fantasy points set at 35.7. Depsite playing a back-to-back Murray is not the player you should worry about losing minutes for rest purposes.
Some other options for you: Will Barton is going for $5k on FanDuel and expected to score 26.9 fantasy points and Jalen Brunson is cheap ($4.5k on FanDuel) and is expected to score 18.63 fantasy points.
Bet on Matchup
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