The Denver Nuggets are looking to turn things around against the Dallas Mavericks tonight. Dating back to last season, the Nuggets have dropped their previous three match ups with the Mavericks. The one game the two have played so far this season is one Nuggets fans likely want to forget. After a back and forth affair in the first half, Denver mustered a grand total of five points in the third quarter and the rout was on.

The Mavericks are enjoying another playoff bound season. At age 37 Dirk Nowitzki is not the dominant player he once was but he’s still a very good, very tough to defend big man who shoots near 40% from beyond the three point line. The Mavericks have done a good job of finding talent to lighten the burden on Dirk as well. Deron Williams and Zaza Pachulia have both had solid seasons despite being considered past their prime.

The Nuggets look to continue the momentum they gained with a grind it out win in Los Angeles against the Clippers on Wednesday. Once known as a dominant home team, the Nuggets have actually earned more victories on the road this season. The Mavericks have not been playing their best as of late and despite having a consistently sold out arena, they don’t exactly boast a nearly flawless home record. This one could be another game the Nuggets can steal on the road.

The Basics:

Who: Denver Nuggets (23-35) at Dallas Mavericks (30-28)

When: 6:30PM MST

Where: American Airlines Arena, Dallas TX

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV and KRWZ AM 950

Rival blog: Mavs Moneyball

Dallas Mavericks Denver Nuggets Advantage
PG Deron Williams Emmanuel Mudiay Even
SG Wesley Matthews Gary Harris Even
SF Chandler Parsons Danilo Gallinari Nuggets
PF Dirk Nowitzki Kenneth Faried Mavericks
C Zaza Pachulia Nikola Jokic Even
Bench Raymond Felton, Devin Harris, J.J. Barea, David Lee, Salah Mejri, Charlie Villanueva, Dwight Powell, Justin Anderson Will Barton, Jusuf Nurkic, Darrell Arthur,D.J. Augustin, Joffrey Lauvergne, Mike Miller, Jameer Nelson Even

Injured players: Jameer Nelson – probable (wrist), Wilson Chandler – out (hip), Deron Williams – probable (finger)

Key match up: Dirk Nowitzki vs Kenneth Faried

Nowitzki is a tough match up for Faried. For starters, Kenneth has never been a stout defender, especially against guys who have range. On top of that, Nowitzki has a significant height advantage which he can, and most likely will, utilize in the post with his patented fade away. Though they don't count on him to put up 30+ points a night anymore, the Mavericks main offensive threat is still Dirk so the Nuggets will need a solid defensive performance out of the Manimal to secure a victory.

Key thing to watch for: Small ball

The Mavericks boast a rotation that plays no fewer than four traditional point guards and while they don't play a necessarily fast paced game, they do utilize a smaller line up often. This could mean fewer minutes for Faried and Jusuf Nurkic (if any) tonight with a lot more Danilo Gallinari at the power forward position. It should also mean some opportunities for Emmanuel Mudiay. None of Dallas' point guards are known for their defense nor do they possess the type of size that Mudiay has. Additionally, the Mavericks are sorely lacking in rim protection so this game sets up nicely for Denver's young point guard.

Opening thought: Two teams, two different places

The Nuggets are on the outside of the playoff picture and the Mavericks are on the inside (though that could certainly change) but I can't help but feel I'd much rather be in Denver's position than Dallas'. The Mavericks are not a championship contender, regardless if the make the playoffs. The team is built around aging players and once Nowitzki retires they're likely headed into a long rebuild. Meanwhile, despite their slim chances of making the playoffs this year, Denver is headed towards being a perennial playoff team with the plethora of young talent they have compiled. Still, in the snapshot of this one game tonight, I think the Mavericks are the better team and will get the win 108-102.