The Denver Nuggets will host the Dallas Mavericks tonight in another national television matchup, making this the fourth straight game the Nuggets will play on ESPN or TNT. Before Tuesday’s win against the shorthanded Minnesota Timberwolves, the Nuggets were 6-7 in their previous 13 games, trending in the wrong direction after setting a high standard during the first half of the season.

Michael Malone and the coaching staff used a tough media session following last Friday’s blowout versus the Golden State Warriors, and if the game against the T’Wolves is to be used as a barometer for that message, it was clearly heard. The bench in particular moved the ball extremely well, led by Mason Plumlee’s eight assists, followed closely by Monte Morris with six. Isaiah Thomas didn’t play, and maybe that had some impact. Either way, the Nuggets were playing unselfishly, sharing the basketball, and supporting each other on the way to a victory.

Now, it’s time to recreate that message versus Luka Doncic and the Mavericks.

The Basics

Who: Dallas Mavericks (27-40) versus Denver Nuggets (44-22)

When: Thursday, March 14th at 8:30 MST

Where: Pepsi Center — Denver, CO

How to Watch: TNT

Rival Blog: Mavs Moneyball

Injury Report

Trey Lyles and Michael Porter Jr. are out. Torrey Craig is questionable with a shoulder injury he sustained in garbage time versus the T’Wolves.

News and Notes

Travel has been an issue for the Mavericks due to the Bomb Cyclone hitting Colorado the last couple of days, as Denver International Airport closed due to weather conditions and is opening late today.

The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors played last night, with the Warriors taking a close game on the road. This is the best outcome for Denver, as it pushed Houston away from Denver and the 2 seed by a half game. If Denver wins tonight, they will move 3.5 games above the Thunder and Rockets in the race or the 2 seed. Denver’s Magic Number to claim the 2 seed currently sits at 13, so they will need that number of combined Nuggets wins and losses by the teams below them to claim a top 2 spot in the conference.

Luka Doncic is coming off of his worst game of his young career versus the San Antonio Spurs, scoring just 12 points on 5/18 from the field and a preposterously bad 1/9 from he free throw line, including nine turnovers. It’s hard to have a worse game than that, but the young phenom has not had many duds so far. He’s averaging over 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists, and the only players under 22 to ever average such numbers are...LeBron James twice.

The Mavericks are tanking to hold onto their draft pick this year. Dallas has lost six in a row and are 1-11 in their last 12 games. After trading away the other four members of their starting lineup to free up Doncic to develop and acquire Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks have been left vulnerable. They want another top five draft pick to put next to Doncic and Porzingis (and maybe Jalen Brunson) going forward, and who can blame them? Either way, there should be no excuses for the Nuggets to lose this one. The Mavericks are shorthanded, at a travel disadvantage, are playing at altitude, and are trying to lose.

Denver needs to step on the gas tonight and produce another statement victory.