Mavericks vs Nuggets preview: Lawson, Nuggets seek end of streak

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

If the Denver Nuggets are looking for an answer to their current six-game losing streak, it just might come in the form of a team they've bested twice already this season: the Dallas Mavericks.

Game 60: 2013-14 NBA Season
@
36-25 (17-15 away)
Series 2-0 Nugs
25-34 (14-16 home)
March 5th 2014
Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
6:00 PM MT
ESPN / Altitude / 950 AM

Jose Calderon PG Aaron Brooks
Monta Ellis SG Randy Foye
Shawn Marion
SF Wilson Chandler
Dirk Nowitzki
PF Kenneth Faried
Samuel Dalembert
C Timofey Mozgov
Notes
Mavs Moneyball Blogs Denver Stiffs
None Injuries Danilo Gallinari (knee), JaVale McGee (leg fracture), Nate Robinson (ACL sprain) are out.
The Mavs have won six of their last eight road games. Stat Despite winning both games versus the Mavs thus far this season, the Nuggets are just 13-8 versus the Mavs since the 2007-08 season.

On Monday night as our Denver Nuggets made a last-dash desperado attempt to tie the Minnesota Timberwolves thanks to a 45-point fourth quarter and a trio of three-pointers at the game's tail end, the energy inside Pepsi Center was reminiscent of a year ago when the Nuggets routinely pulled out home victories that they had no business winning. Getting the few fans remaining to sit on the edge of their seats, it seemed like the Nuggets players were having fun for the first time in months.

Maybe it was the welcomed return of starting point guard Ty Lawson (returning after missing several games with a cracked rib injury), maybe it was the "our coach can't possibly call us out in the media anymore so let's just play" attitude of the players, maybe it was the fluky shots the Nuggets were hitting, or maybe it was the Wolves resting too comfortably on a big fourth quarter lead that allowed the Nuggets to get back into the game in thrilling fashion. Regardless of the causes, it was fun to be a Nuggets fan again. And while it's in the franchise's (and, frankly, the fans) best interest to have the Nuggets continue losing their way into the NBA Draft Lottery, losing just doesn't feel right and never will.

Unfortunately, the Nuggets have been doing a lot of losing lately (six straight and 16 of their last 22 games to be exact) despite the players (finally) putting forth some inspiring efforts on the court, notably Monday late versus the Wolves and twice recently against the Portland Trail Blazers (we'll pretend the Brooklyn Nets game just never happened ... it's better for our collective sanity as Nuggets fans).

If the Nuggets are serious about ending their losing ways, Wednesday night's opponent - the Mavericks - present a golden opportunity to get back on track. Because for some bizarre, unexplainable reason, the Nuggets have had the Mavericks' number this year, beating them twice in a home-and-home affair right before Thanksgiving. Can the Nuggets make it three straight versus Dallas?

Three things to look for in the game ...

1) A better start for Denver. The Nuggets' slow starts have been bedeviling them all season, but it seems to be pronounced as much as ever lately. When the roster was more healthy earlier in the season, the Nuggets' depth was able to overcome the starters' slow starts ... but as injuries have depleted the roster, the holes delivered from the starters to the bench have been insurmountable in most occasions.

2) Hold the Mavericks to 100 or less. The eighth-highest scoring team in the league, Dallas racked up some big scoring nights during a recent four-game winning streak. In two games versus the Nuggets, Denver held Dallas to 100 points or less - something that equaled two victories for the Nuggets.

3) Get to the "taco" mark. Conversely, when scoring 110 points or more the Nuggets are virtually unstoppable at home. Prior to Monday's home loss to the Wolves, the Nuggets had won 52 straight home games when scoring 110 points or more. Yes, it's just been that kind of season my fellow Stiffs.

Scouting the Mavericks ...

Mavs Non-Stiffs

-Dirk Nowitzki: Now in his 16th NBA season, Nowitzki remains as one of the best power forwards in the NBA and was rewarded as such by being named to his 12th All-Star team in February. Simply put, Nowitzki is amazing and we should treasure the remaining good games he has left in the tank.

-Monta Ellis: Ellis has given Nowitzki and the Mavericks something they desperately needed - extra firepower from someone who doesn't wear No. 41.

-Shawn Marion: Surprisingly, the 35 year old Marion is having a fine all around season and despite being a poor man's version of his "Matrix" days, Marion has been a big part of the Mavericks playoff push.

Final Thought ...

The Nuggets' final 22 games present the ultimate conundrum to their fans. On the one hand, we want the team to develop a culture of hard work and fun that should carry over into next season. On the other hand, we want the team to lose their way further and further into the NBA Draft Lottery so that Nuggets have the best chance possible of securing a top draft selection. The two concepts really don't go together at all, so I guess we'll just have to see what happens on a game-by-game basis.

*****

WATCH THE NCAA TOURNAMENT WITH NUGGETS GM TIM CONNELLY

Join us on Saturday, March 22nd at 5pm at Jake's Food & Spirits to watch the NCAA Tournament with the Nuggets GM, Tim Connelly. This will be a terrific opportunity to meet Tim and hang out with your fellow Stiffs. Be sure to save the date and we'll see you there!

*****

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