WASHINGTON WIZARDS (29-34) AT MAVERICKS (35-27)
Time: 8 p.m.
Place: American Airlines Center, Dallas
TV: TXA Channel 21
Radio: ESPN 103.3 FM; Univision 1270 AM (Spanish)
About the Mavericks: After going 2-1 on their recent three-game road trip, the Mavs return home to start a two-game homestand – in back-to-back fashion. Following tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards, the Mavs will host the Sacramento Kings on Sunday before packing their bags again for a one-game trip to Miami on Tuesday. After that the Mavs will be back at American Airlines Center to entertain the high-powered Brooklyn Nets on Thursday and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday. . .The Mavs are 6-7 on the front end of a back-to-back. They also are just 16-14 on their home court. Of the top six teams in both the Western and Eastern conferences, the Mavs have the most home losses of those 12 teams. . .The Mavs have posted a 12-6 record in their last 18 games and are eight games over .500 for the first time this season. They also have won five of their last six games, with the only blemish being that disappointing 113-106 loss last Monday in Sacramento. . .With 10 games remaining in the regular season, the Mavs are only half-a-game behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference. Since the Mavs own the tiebreaker over the Lakers because of their 2-1 season series victory over the Lakers, officially Dallas will be the No. 5 seed if it wins tonight’s game. . .Luka Doncic (left elbow contusion) and Dorian Finney-Smith (left lower leg soreness) are expected back tonight after sitting out Thursday’s 115-105 triumph over the Detroit Pistons. Kristaps Porzingis left the game against Detroit with 4:20 remaining in the third quarter and did not return due to right knee soreness. He has been ruled out of this game . . .It was a terrific homecoming against Detroit for a pair of University of Michigan products as Tim Hardaway Jr. tallied a career-high 42 points and Trey Burke was second on the Mavs in scoring with 15 points. “Just being back where I went to school and just being able to play in front of my family and a couple of my friends, I didn’t want to leave out of (Detroit) with an L,” Hardaway said. “And I knew Trey didn’t want to do that as well. So, all of that was in my head and I just wanted to do the best I could to help close it out and help my team win.” Hardaway personally outscored the Pistons, 17-11, during a four minute and 28-second stretch in the critical late portion of the fourth quarter. . .The Mavs own a 15-9 record against the Eastern Conference teams.
About the Wizards: Washington started the season with an awful 17-32 record, but since April 7 the Wizards have posted the best record in the NBA. During that period of time, they’ve opened a lot of eyes by winning 12 of their last 14 games. That includes winning eight straight games before that streak was snapped during last Monday’s 146-143 contest in overtime to the San Antonio Spurs. The Wizards’ only other loss since April 7 was 134-106 at Phoenix on April 10. . .By the way, 10 of the 12 wins the Wizards collected during their recent hot surge came against teams that currently have a losing record. . .Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal have been on an incredible tear. In the month of April, Westbrook produced a whopping 14 triple-doubles. That’s the most by any player in NBA history during one calendar month. Westbrook, who picked up 15 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in Friday’s 122-93 victory in Cleveland, also has a Wizards’ single-season franchise-best 31 triple-doubles this season. Inn addition, Westbrook has 12 triple-doubles in the last 14 games. . .Beal tallied 34 points during an impressive 125-121 win in Utah on April 12, and Westbrook added 25 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. Also, Beal scored 27 points and Westbrook collected 18 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists during Wednesday’s 116-107 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. . .The Wizards are presently perched in the 10th seat in the Eastern Conference, so they would be in the play-in tournament if the season ended today. . .The Wizards flipped their season around two games after losing at home to the Mavericks, 109-87, back on April 3 in a game Beal didn’t play because of a right hip contusion. It was at that point – and still is – the lowest scoring game of the season for the Wizards, with Westbrook finishing that contest with 26 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. . .Beal is second in the NBA in scoring at 31.1 ppg, and Westbrook leads in assists at 11 apg. If that duo can finish the season leading the league in those categories it will be just the fourth time two teammates led the NBA in scoring and assists in the same season. The last pair to accomplish that feat was George Gervin (32.3 ppg) and Johnny Moore (9.1 apg) of the San Antonio Spurs during the 1981-’82 season.