Nuggets vs. Mavericks preview: Denver seeks sweep of desperate Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

Like the plot of an old Clint Eastwood western, the Denver Nuggets will be facing a revenge-oriented Dallas Mavericks squad eager to avenge three prior losses.

Game 69: 2013-14 NBA Season
@ Dallas Mavericks (1981 - 2001)
31-37 (13-21 away)
Series 3-0
41-28 (22-11 home)
March 21st 2014
American Airlines Center - Dallas,TX
6:30 PM MT
Altitude / 950 AM

Ty Lawson PG Jose Calderon
Randy Foye
SG Monta Ellis
Wilson Chandler SF Shawn Marion
Kenneth Faried PF Dirk Nowitzki
Timofey Mozgov C Samuel Dalembert
Notes
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Danilo Gallinari (knee), JaVale McGee (leg fracture), Nate Robinson (ACL sprain) are out. Injuries None

J.J. Hickson has a double-double in three straight games.

Stat

This is the first of eight straight home games for the Mavericks.


The Denver Nuggets have had their ups and (mostly) downs this season, but one thing they have done consistently is handle the Dallas Mavericks. They'll be looking to bust out the brooms for the season sweep Friday night in Dallas in the first of six straight games against teams that are most likely headed to the playoffs.

Ty Lawson should make his return after he was a surprise scratch from Wednesday night's victory over the Detroit Pistons, as should Wilson Chandler. The Nuggets looked like they missed their two leading scorers early in the previous game, but the brilliant play of Aaron Brooks and Randy Foye's sharp-shooting allowed Denver to pull away in the second half and eke out a win.

Their return should boost a Nuggets' offense that has had the Maverick's number all year. Denver has averaged 109 points on 45.6% shooting against Dallas in the three previous times they have faced each other this season. The games have been competitive but Denver has been able to stay composed and close it out each time.

That might not be the case tonight. The three losses to the Nuggets loom large; Dallas is clinging tenuously to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference by a mere 1.5 games over the Phoenix Suns. Playoff teams aren't typically swept by the lottery-bound ones. Also, Dallas lost a tough one in overtime their last time out against the Minnesota Timberwolves when Dirk Nowitzki's potential game-winning shot failed to drop (unlike this beauty from earlier in the season), so they'll be playing with extra motivation and desperation.

The proud veteran team, led by the inimitable Nowitzki, missed the playoffs last season when he struggled with injuries. However, he has been healthy this year and thus the Mavs have enjoyed a full season of vintage Dirk. He's averaging 21.5 points per game on 49% shooting to go with 6 rebounds a game. Missing the playoffs again would be catastrophic as the team cannot afford to waste the twilight of Nowitzki's career.

Another Mav playing well is Monta Ellis. Ellis was one of several free agents linked to the Nuggets after it was determined that Andre Iguodala had defected signed with the Golden State Warriors. Fans were lukewarm at best to the possible acquisition, but Ellis has had a bounce-back season. He's the Mavs second-leading scorer at 18.7 points per game and has settled in nicely as the second option.

Denver is going to have to play better than they did against the Pistons if they want to pull this one off. I expect Dallas to come out aggressive and focused, and it will up to the Nuggets to match their energy. Any defensive lapses or lethargic play could lead to a big deficit. That being said, for whatever reason, Denver matches up well against the Mavericks and I wouldn't be surprised at all if they got out of town with another sweep against a Western Conference opponent.

Game Predictions -

- You really can't understate how huge Brooks was against the Pistons. He stepped up when the team needed him most and as a result has earned Brian Shaw's trust. I think we will see Brooks getting more minutes and less games where Lawson goes over 40 minutes. I will say Lawson gets around 30 minutes tonight and Brooks goes for 15-20, with a combined 15 assists between them.

- Vince Carter is still in the NBA, believe it or not. He's putting in about 12 points a game and makes 38% of his three-pointers. I have always liked Carter (probably because I was raised in a Tar Heel household), even though his game has always had deficiencies. In a throwback performance, I think he goes for over 20 points tonight.

- I predict I will compare Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle to Jim Carrey at least five times during the telecast.

- One player that could have a sneaky good game is Mavericks center Samuel Dalembert. He went off for a career-high 35 points as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks against Denver last year, and the Nuggets' front-court has struggled defensively all season.

- Despite Dallas' desire to win this game, I think Denver gets it done tonight. They have gotten up for the good teams all season with a few exceptions, so I think the trend will continue. Denver wins 111-104.

Last but not least - Stiffs Night Out! Hope to see you guys there!

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