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What To Watch For: Mavs vs. Knicks

Tonight’s game is going to be a real test for the Mavs, but not in the way a game against the Warriors or Raptors, two upcoming opponents, will be.

Monday’s loss to the Pacers showed once again that no team in the league can be taken lightly, even if that team is missing its five top players from the year before. Dallas players used the word “embarrassing” to describe the loss after the game.

Well, here’s the Mavs’ chance to make things right, because the Knicks will likely be without superstar forward Carmelo Anthony, listed as doubtful after suffering back spasms two days ago. This league is full of crazy, coincidental occurrences that immediately make you remember the game before when all you’re trying to do is forget about it. If the Pacers were depleted, the Knicks are in even worse shape without Anthony.

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What To Watch For: Mavs vs. Pacers

Short-handed teams are desperate, and desperate teams can be dangerous.

That’s exactly the case for the Indiana Pacers tonight. The 2013-14 Eastern Conference runners-up to Miami, the Pacers have already been without Paul George, George Hill, David West, and CJ Watson for the entire season. The first three were starters on last season’s No. 1 seed in the East, and Watson was the backup point guard.

Now, Indiana could be doing battle without Roy Hibbert, CJ Miles, and Rodney Stuckey, each of whom are questionable for tonight’s game. Hibbert is widely regarded as one of the best defensive centers in basketball, Miles always plays well in Dallas, and Stuckey is a double-digit scorer.

The Pacers are going to be short a lot of talent tonight, whether or not the trio of questionable players all suit up. However, that isn’t to say it’s going to be an easy win. The Pacers are once again a top-10 defense. Under Frank Vogel, Indiana has always played a grind-it-out style on both ends of the floor in an attempt to keep the game in the 90s or even 80s.

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Player of the Week: Brandan Wright

Brandan Wright continued his ridiculously hot start to the season this week. The backup big man has reached double-figures in seven consecutive games and eight of the last night. Factoring in last night’s loss in Houston, the Mavs are now 9-1 on the season when Wright scores 10 or more in a game. The statistical savant also recorded his first double-double of the season last night, pouring in 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting and grabbing 11 boards.

Wright has simply been phenomenal this season. He’s scoring 0.8 points per halfcourt touch right now, meaning every two times he touches the ball, he’s scoring 1.6 points. That’s an outrageous clip and only one player in the NBA who plays more than two minutes per game (Denver’s JaVale McGee) averages more points per touch. However, even he plays six fewer minutes per game than Wright and receives eight fewer touches per game. There really is no one like Wright.

His 78.5 field goal percentage leads the league and would be the highest of all-time by a wide margin. Anthony Davis is the only player with a PER higher than Wright’s 31.1 (30 is considered extraordinary), per Basketball-Reference. His 161.1 offensive rating is 22.5 points higher than second-place Courtney Lee’s 138.5 and he’s worth more win shares per 48 minutes this season than anyone in the NBA.

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Dallas Mavericks introduce innovative 360-degree replay system

If you’ve ever been to a Mavs game, you must have noticed the jumbotron. Who doesn’t? The thing is huge and the picture is crystal clear.

The only problem with the Texas-sized scoreboard is that it can only show you a replay from one angle, or what you can also see on TV. And, let’s be honest, we’re seeing a lot of highlights this season. After all, the Mavericks lead the league in dunks — Tyson Chandler and Brandan Wright are practically human highlight reels. Dirk Nowitzki is still letting the one-legged fades fly from all sorts of angles. Monta Ellis seems to defy gravity with the way he moves through the air at such high speeds. Whether you’re watching the game live or from home, there are so many replays we want to watch over and over again from every angle possible, but until now, we haven’t been able to.

That’s where freeD comes in. An innovation by Replay Technologies, freeD essentially “frees” a video. Replay Technologies will install cameras at 26 different positions around the AAC, which will provide 360 degrees of coverage (in 5K resolution, no less) and will turn a two-dimensional space — what’s caught on camera — into a three-dimensional one.

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What To Watch For: Mavs vs. Lakers

We’re going to witness a bit of history tonight.

Both Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant are top-10 scorers ever. It will be the first time in years that two top-10 players share the floor. Combined, the two have amassed nearly 60,000 points. Just insane.

There’s much more to tonight’s game, though, than just the historical placement of two megastars. The Mavericks have surged out to a 9-3 start behind an all-time-good offense while the Lakers sit at 3-9 in the beginning of their season. LA did, however, just beat Houston on the Rockets’ home floor on Wednesday night. That’s just another example of why win/loss records really do not matter in the NBA. If you don’t show up to play, a team is going to beat you — especially if that team has Kobe Bryant.

Nevertheless, if both teams play their best game, the Mavericks will win. Dallas just has so much depth, which makes it very difficult for any team to beat the Mavs. Even if a club is better than Dallas 1-3 or even 1-5, the Mavs will get you 6-13. That might be the difference tonight. Kobe is going to get his, but the Mavs — all of them — are going to get theirs.

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What To Watch For: Mavs at Wizards

No matter how you felt about the Mavs’ chances heading into the season, I’m not sure anyone would have predicted a November matchup against the Washington Wizards would be one of the league’s biggest games to this point in the season.

Dallas (8-3) and Washington (7-2) are two of the NBA’s best eight teams by record so far in the young season. Washington is unbeaten at home and the Mavericks have played very well in four of their five road games to this point. Something’s got to give in this one.

The Wizards, who rode hot shooting to the second round of the East playoffs last season, have only won one game against a team with a winning record this season, a victory against the upstart 5-4 Milwaukee Bucks. Dallas, meanwhile, has lost three games to above-.500 teams, but the Mavs have also clinched wins against the Pelicans and Kings.

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Pick your poison with Mavs’ flow offense

Toward the beginning of the second half against Minnesota on Saturday, Chandler Parsons missed a long three-pointer. Tyson Chandler back-tapped the board to Monta Ellis at mid-court. What happened next, mid-play, could be the Mavs’ best and most unstoppable set, and it was all basically improvised.

Ellis and Parsons had headed back down the floor to play transition defense. Typically off a long shot, the Mavs will send between two and as many as four players back to limit opponents’ fast break opportunities. That also plays to Tyson Chandler’s strengths, who’s probably the best back-tapper in the NBA. I can’t tell you how many offensive rebounds he’s secured this way — and a player only gets credit for a tap if the ball goes directly to a teammate. Chandler has nearly perfected what seems like an impossibly difficult thing to do.

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What To Watch For: Mavs at Hornets

The Mavericks capped off their four-game homestand in convincing fashion. After outscoring their opponents by a combined 67 points in the last two games of the set, Dallas now has the highest point differential in the Western Conference and the highest net rating in all of basketball. Dallas played like a juggernaut after falling behind to Sacramento, clawing itself out of that hole and into a three-game winning streak.

But now it’s time to head on the road for a quick two-game trip, first in Charlotte and then in Washington. The Hornets (not Bobcats, remember) are off to just a 4-6 start this season, but it’s widely assumed that when all is said and done they’ll be one of the top-eight out East. This is the Mavs’ first road game against an Eastern Conference team this season, and it’s going to be a doozy. The Hornets play a gritty style built around their All-NBA center Al Jefferson. Tyson Chandler is going to have a heck of a challenge on his hands, and those bruising matchups inside are always fun to watch.

Before we go any further, let’s dig into the numbers and see what the Hornets’ defense is made of.

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Player of the Week: Monta Ellis

Monta Ellis isn’t the player of the week just because of his own numbers. We’re beginning to see significant evidence through 10 games that his fingerprints are really all over this team.

Ellis went ballistic on the court this week, scoring 21.5 points in just 32 minutes per game and hitting well over half his shots. Dallas was 24 points per 100 possessions overall when Ellis played. Those are impressive numbers, and they’re a huge reason by Dallas went 3-1, including one dramatic comeback win against Sacramento and two fairly convincing wins over Philadelphia and Minnesota.

Much was made last season of Monta’s development as a player and how effective he became alongside Dirk Nowitzki. A lot of very smart people pointed to Nowitzki’s impact on floor spacing making things easier for Ellis, and therefore Dirk deserved a lot of the credit. That isn’t necessarily incorrect, though one could argue that the German benefited just as much from Ellis. Their symbiotic relationship in the halfcourt propelled Dallas to a league-best offense after the All-Star break last season and the Mavs are off to another crazy-good start this season.

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