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What To Watch For: Mavs at Pistons

It’s amazing how good this team looks when the threes are falling, huh? Dallas hit 15-of-33 from behind the arc last night against the New York Knicks, the fourth time all season the Mavs have reached at least that mark, per Basketball-Reference. Dallas is 3-1 in those games.

Dallas has the ball-handling and spacing ability to generate a good look at a three on almost every possession, so if the Mavericks get hot, it’s nearly impossible to beat them. That’s exactly what happened yesterday, and it’s something the club will hope to replicate against the Detroit Pistons.

Even beyond the statistics the Pistons are still a dangerous team. This is a club that grabbed a road win against Phoenix last Friday and another win at Sacramento the night after. Those games came a week after Detroit lost back-to-back games in overtime before losing to OKC by two. A 5-20 record looks bad on paper, but this is a club that is completely capable of keeping games close. Elsewhere during the season, Detroit has lost to the Clippers by six, the Suns by two, the Wizards (on the road) by four, and the Grizzlies (on the road) by just seven. They’ve played well against the best teams in the league, so Dallas must be on its guard.

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What To Watch For: Mavs at Knicks

The Mavs are already looking for their third season sweep against an East team this season. After taking care of business against the Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas is already playing its second and final game against the New York Knicks this season. The old adage goes it’s difficult to beat a team twice in a row, and that could very well hold true tonight.

It’s likely that Chandler Parsons will suit up for the Mavs tonight after missing Saturday’s loss to Golden State. The offense missed Parsons’s playmaking and shooting ability, and it would be really good to have him back. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing — once you’ve already played a team once, they know everything about you, so you need all hands on deck to get another W.

With another game tomorrow night in Detroit, look for the Mavs to make a move early in the game in an effort to put the contest out of question. Last time these two teams played, the Knicks kept sticking around and forced overtime before Dallas finally pulled away. The Mavs can’t afford for that to be the case again this evening, as every extra minute Dirk Nowitzki & Co. play could impact them tomorrow.

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Player of the Week: Chandler Parsons

Everything Chandler Parsons does is stylish, even when it comes to busting out of a slump.

Parsons worked his way through an up-and-down start to the 2014-15 season, experiencing moments when he couldn’t miss and playing games when his shot simply wasn’t falling. But this past week he burst back onto the scene, leading the Mavs in scoring and reminding us all of the type of productive player he can be when he finds his range. That’s why he’s this week’s Player of the Week.

It was very evident that Dallas missed Parsons during Saturday’s loss to Golden State. Richard Jefferson put up a 13/13 double-double in his stead, but the Mavs weren’t able to capitalize off of the spacing effect Parsons can create when his shot is falling. Even if he’s slumping, defenses still must respect his outside shot — but during the past few games, he’s been on fire to the degree that defenders are now desperately launching themselves at him, which makes his already lethal pump fake all the more dangerous.

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Vote your Mavs into the 2015 NBA All-Star Game!

All-Star voting begins today. That means it’s time to get to work.

For the first time, every single NBA player is eligible to receive votes. Until this season, just 36 frontcourt players and 24 backcourt players from each conference were placed on the ballot. That policy is no more, which is a good thing, but it also means that fan involvement in the voting process is more important than ever. With more players to choose from, the votes could be spread out more thin, meaning if fans can rally around their team’s best players, they have a good chance at earning a spot on the team. That means that with enough MFFL support, Dirk, Monta, Tyson Chandler, and the rest of the gang can represent the club in New York this February.

We know Dirk Nowitzki gets a lot of national love, and it’s well-deserved. He’s an MVP, a Finals MVP, a billion-time All-Star, and all-around well-liked guy across the league. Even at his age, he’s still one of the best players at his position. Even despite his recent little shooting slump, he’s still putting up more points per 36 minutes (23.0) than his career average of 22.6. There’s only one Dirk Nowitzki, and he’s still playing at a high level. He hasn’t gone anywhere, folks.

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What To Watch For: Mavs at Grizzlies

Not many teams in basketball are playing better than the Memphis Grizzlies. The 16-4 Grizz are tied for second-best record in the league with two other Western Conference teams. Memphis is 9-1 at home. No matter how you slice it, this is going to be a tough one.

But that’s always been the case when the Mavs and Grizzlies do battle in Memphis. For example, last year’s regular season finale finished 106-105 in overtime as a Monta Ellis jump shot rimmed out at the buzzer. When both Dirk Nowitzki and the Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol are healthy, these teams are nearly inseparable in any respect. That’s what makes tonight’s game so intriguing.

Add to that, of course, Vince Carter coming off the Memphis bench, the inevitable banging of Zach Randolph and Tyson Chandler down low, and the offensive genius of both Ellis and Mike Conley on the perimeter, and you have yourself a ballgame.

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Player of the Week: Monta Ellis

There’s no way Monta Ellis couldn’t be this week’s Player of the Week.

He was just unbelievable in the last four games, at times carrying the team and at times just playing his normal All-Star brand of basketball. Ellis technically hit two game-winners in two nights (the Milwaukee buzzer-beater and the three-pointer to take a 130-129 lead in Chicago), and while it’s impossible to credit just one player for any NBA win, without Ellis’s late-game heroics in both contests, there’s no telling if Dallas would have won either game.

For example, Ellis scored eight of the Mavs’ final nine points in the come-from-behind road win against the Bucks Wednesday night, and all of them came in the final 1:34 of the game. He took his game up another level in Chicago, and he’s sustained that rare combination of efficiency and volume throughout the entire week — his 32.4 usage rate in the last four games leads the team by a mile, and that number climbed to an even higher 36.8 percent in the fourth quarter, meaning more than one-third of Mavs possessions in the final frame ended either in an Ellis shot or turnover. And considering he turned it over less than two times per game during the last four, more often than not it was a shot and two points.

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What To Watch For: Mavs vs. Bucks

Quick rematches in the NBA are a pretty rare occurrence, and they’re almost impossible to predict. An old adage in the NFL is it’s tough to beat the same team twice in a season, and while the same doesn’t necessarily always hold true in the NBA, it certainly does when the two games are played less than a week apart from each other.

Tonight’s game between the Mavs and Bucks, however, is completely different than the contest the two teams fought out Wednesday evening in Milwaukee. For starters, Dirk Nowitzki didn’t even suit up that night, as Dallas was on the second night of a back-to-back after beating the Bulls in double overtime a day prior. To be fair, the Bucks, too, had just played the night before, a three-point loss in Cleveland. They were also playing without regular rotation man Ersan Ilyasova for the first time, and he is expected to miss tonight’s game with a mild concussion after taking a blow to the face Tuesday night against the Cavaliers.

You’d almost expect it to be the same exact game when two teams are playing again so immediately, but that’s anything but the case tonight. Every NBA game is unique enough as it is, and considering the rest the teams have had and Nowitzki’s presence alone, this tilt is going to be a horse of a different color.

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Mavs Fact or Fiction

As the Mavs prepare to play four of their next five at the AAC, it’s time to play a little fact or fiction for some of the biggest stories right now and also some prognostications about the team’s outlook in the Western Conference playoff chase this season.

Monta Ellis will lead the team in scoring this season.

Currently, Ellis leads the Mavs with 20.7 points per game, followed by Dirk Nowitzki in second at 19.6 per. No Maverick aside from Dirk has led the team in scoring since the turn of the millennium, which is all the evidence you need to go with Nowitzki… right? Wrong. Ellis will lead the team in points per game this season. That’s a FACT, although with a caveat.

Dirk leads the main rotation players in points per 36 minutes 24.0, followed by Monta at 21.9. However, Nowitzki’s per-game average has relatively suffered because he’s playing just 29.4 minutes in 2014-15, fourth-most on the team. Ellis, meanwhile, leads the team with 33.9 minutes a game. I’d love to see both players receive that amount of minutes for the rest of the season, though those numbers might trend upward later in the season as games get closer and more important in the playoff picture.

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What To Watch For: Mavs at Bucks

Whew.

I’m still pretty worked up about that game last night, and I’m sure most of you feel the same way. I mean, who could blame you? Double overtime on the road against one of the best teams in basketball, on a night when Dirk Nowitzki’s back ached, and when Derrick Rose hit an overtime prayer to tie it up? It was some dramatic stuff, and that’s why we watch.

But as fun as it will be to rehash the game with your friends at work today or even weeks from now, the Mavs are not going to talk about it after tonight. They’re going to move on, and that’s exactly what they should do. Veteran teams don’t get too high after highs and they don’t get too low after lows.

Rose’s one-handed push shot to force double-OT? That’s a low.

Monta Ellis’s three-pointer to give the Mavs the lead in double-OT? That’s a high. The win, too, is obviously the highest high of them all.

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