The Kings snapped a 10-game regular season losing streak to the Mavericks when they beat Dallas 110-97 a month ago at Power Balance Pavilion. Limping with injuries down the stretch, the Kings visit Dallas for their last match-up with the Mavericks this season.
Gametime: 5:30 pm PST
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For Mavericks perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network blog The Two Man Game.
Kings Probable Starters (19-38)
|Isaiah Thomas||Jimmer Fredette||Tyreke Evans||Jason Thompson||DeMarcus Cousins|
Marcus Thornton may or may not play today. He’s missed the last four games with a bruised left calf. Keith Smart said before Sunday’s loss that they’d test Thornton’s health in some drill-work before tonight’s game. John Salmons and Francisco Garcia are also day-to-day with Salmons still recovering from a hip injury and Garcia from a concussion.
Mavericks Probable Starters (31-26)
|Delonte West||Vince Carter||Shawn Marion||Dirk Nowitzki||Brendan Haywood|
Jason Kidd missed the last four games with a groin strain, but is expected to return tonight to the Mavs’ lineup. The defending champs are fighting just to make the playoffs. In they’re last 10 games, the Mavs have posted a meager 4-6 record. Currently, Dallas hold the seventh seed, but is tied record-wise with the Denver Nuggets and just one game ahead of the ninth place Phoenix Suns.
You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.
1. Match-up to watch?
Rob Mahoney: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Brendan Haywood/Ian Mahinmi/Brandan Wright. Cousins has cooled down ever so lightly over the last few games, but he’s still an absolute monster, and should give Haywood a hell of a challenge. But the bigger problems will likely come when Haywood goes to the bench, and Mahinmi and Wright — two capable players who merely lack Haywood’s strength and defensive acumen — are forced to counter Cousins’ unusual cadence.
James Ham: Jason Thompson needs to slow down Dirk Nowitzki and really make him work on both the offensive and defensive end. Dirk’s versatility is bound to hurt Thompson and might even mean light duty for the Kings’ big, but if they are smart, the Kings should feed JT in the post and let him go to work.
Jonathan Santiago: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Jason Thompson. For the third time in six games, the Kings power forward is tasked with the challenge of guarding a stretch four. This match-up doesn’t bode well for Thompson, who ended up playing limited minutes last week against Minnesota and Phoenix. With Dallas fighting for a playoff spot, Thompson is going to get the former MVP’s best effort tonight.
2. Stat that decides the game…
Rob Mahoney: Let’s keep this easy: Dallas’ effective field goal percentage. The Mavs’ offense has caused a majority of their problems last season, and these Kings won’t be all that easy to keep up with. How much Dallas can limit Sacramento will naturally come into play, but I’m keeping an eye on the Mavs’ shooting as a litmus test for the effectiveness of their offense.
James Ham: Fastbreak points should decide this one. The Kings have struggled to get the ball out in transition and pick up some easy points over the last few games. Dallas isn’t the high-octane offense they once were, but they still have the ability to push the tempo. The Kings needs to play solid defense, rebound and get out and run if they want to win.
Jonathan Santiago: Fastbreak points. The Kings have gone away from the running game that made them successful through the middle of March. In their last three games, the Kings have scored just 13.3 fastbreak points per game – a dramatic drop-off from their 18.2 season average
3. Which Mavs player steps tonight in light of Lamar Odom’s departure?
Rob Mahoney: Well, given the way Odom played this season, I’m not sure his departure will allow anyone to step up; it’d probably take several steps down by any Maverick regular to reach Odom’s level this season. It’s a bit tricky to peg which supporting Maverick might produce on a given night, but I’m seeing a good outing for Shawn Marion, who should be able to work the seams of the Kings’ defense. It’s a shot in the dark, but as good of one as any.
James Ham: Brandan Wright was already stealing Odom’s minutes before the veteran wandered off into the abyss. I expect coach Rick Carlisle will turn to the 24-year old former first rounder even more now and see if he can keep up his insane 21.6 PER rating.
Jonathan Santiago: The last time these two teams met, Shawn Marion was having a good game before Tyreke Evans took on the challenge of defending him. With the Kings’ injury woes at small forward, a solid outing from Marion wouldn’t surprise me.