Mavericks at Pistons preview
Power forward Dirk Nowitzki (25.8 points, 9.1 rebounds) is the Mavericks’ franchise player and is having another All-Star season. Point guard Jason Kidd is no longer the elite player he once was, but is still a solid point guard and is averaging 8.3 assists this season.
Guard Jason Terry (18.1 points) is a dangerous 6th man for Dallas and can change the momentum of a game with his offense. Shawn Marion (13.6 points, 7.1 rebounds) is showing flashes of his old self and seems to be fitting in better in Dallas than he did in his last two stops, Miami and Toronto.
Center Erick Dampier looks rejuvenated and his scoring (7.6), rebounding (6.7) and blocks (2.2) are all the best they’ve been since the 2004-05 season.
Josh Howard (ankle) is out indefinitely after returning for three games and then determining he needed more time to rest his ankle.
"All the teams I’ve been with we’ve gone to Dallas or played Dallas and realized how talented they are, especially with Jason Kidd, who is one of the premier point guards in our league," Pistons coach John Kuester said. "You got Dirk Nowitzki, who presents so many different problems in regards to be able to hound the basketball, create his own shot, shoot with distance, (he’s) able to take a guy to the basket, he presents all kinds of issues. Then you have Jason Terry, who is explosive, very explosive. He continually gets better, it seems each year."
Key matchup — Detroit’s Charlie Villanueva vs. Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki. Stopping Nowitzki is the key to beating Dallas. Detroit could have Ben Wallace defend Nowitzki, but the job could be left to Villanueva. Nowitzki can score points in a hurry and even scored 29 points in one quarter earlier this season. Nowitzki is not a great defender so Villanueva will have to attack him on the offensive end and possibly try to get Nowitzki into foul trouble.
The skinny — This is a typical NBA trap game for the Pistons, who are coming off a hard-fought win at Washington last night and leave for a West Coast trip on Monday. The Mavericks had an off day after winning at Minnesota on Friday.
"A trap game is only if you feel like all of a sudden you’re feeling too good about yourself," Kuester said. " You should feel good about a win like that that you just had against Washington, but everybody understands you’re talking about one of the premier teams in the West, so I think the focus has to be even more going into this type of game, offensively and defensively, understanding your game plan."
The matchup between Rodney Stuckey and Kidd will be key. Both teams are capable of putting points on the board so which ever point guard can get their offense going first will have an advantage.
Dallas started rookie Rodrique Beaubois at shooting guard on Friday. I’ll be honest I know little about Beaubois other than he was the Mavs first round pick in the draft, but Ben Gordon will have to go at the rookie and test his defense early.
Prediction: Dallas 103, Pistons 95; Pemberton’s record 4-5