The Denver Nuggets meet the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas Tuesday night at 6:30 Mountain Time, in a matchup of two teams who’ve jettisoned their troubled point guards in an attempt to improve their futures.

For the Mavericks that breakup didn’t involve a lot of history or success between Rajon Rondo and the team, but the Nuggets have quite a bit to overcome. Ty Lawson – when focused – was their best player and playmaker, and as Mudiay found out in the first pre-season game those will be big shoes to fill.

With that in mind, here are three things I'm looking at in this preseason dustup in Dallas:

1) Continued growth from Emmanuel Mudiay. Number Zero seemed a bit startled by how up-in-his-grill things got in the first quarter of the Nuggets’ first preseason game, to the point that Jameer Nelson was given the task of bringing the ball up court for awhile with Mudiay getting some off-ball time to regain his equilibrium. Despite his rash of turnovers in his first serious attempt at NBA basketball, though, Mudiay didn’t stay in the shadows, and his 4th quarter 3s were a good sign of a player willing to take the reins. Michael Malone running the last in-bounds play for him was also interesting, in essence saying, “it’s your team, kid, so we might as well get started with this now.”

With Wes Matthews recovering from a torn Achilles and Deron Wiliams’s history of floppy ankles, this might be a good time for Mudiay to push the action. A healthy Mavericks team during the regular season might see if they can duplicate the approach the Clippers took early on with Mudiay, but the Mavs might just want to get out of the preseason in one piece, which would let Mudiay get his sea legs under him in this game and experiment without immediate disaster. That’s what preseason’s for anyway, right?

2) Whether Mega-Gallo rears his head. Danilo Gallinari sat out the first game of the preseason, with Malone deciding to rest the Rooster after his extended action in Eurobasket, where he turned heads and made a few more doubters think the way he ended last season could be the way he starts this one. Gallinari said in an Italian interview that he and Malone have discussed him playing more stretch 4 as games go on, and Gallo vs. Dirk Nowitzki, even in preseason, sounds fun to me. Since Gallo has no rust to shake off thanks to all his summer basketball, I expect him to make an early announcement of his presence as the new best player on the Nuggets squad. Malone will want to get him experience in the starting five playing with Mudiay, so I’m hoping they see a lot of floor time together tonight.

3) Bench Wars. The Nuggets should still be a pretty deep team this year, even if their depth doesn’t always come with experience. The Mavs have most of a top-flight starting five (could have been like last year’s Clips if they could have signed Deandre Jordan, alas), but their bench seems thin. Like, paper-thin. Like, JaVale-McGee-could-get-serious-minutes thin. I think the world of Rick Carlisle as a coach, but his bench vs. ours should be decided in our favor. So seeing our bench come together for decent stretches (and perhaps posterize McGee in the process) could be another fun aspect of the game. I expect less Joffrey Lauvergne in this game, since he too played a bunch of Eurobasket and neither he nor Gallo will play all the preseason games. As long as we can limit the presence of J.J. Hickson, though, all should be well.

Prediction: Denver 96 – Dallas 90, with Gallinari pulling a double-double.

Read what the enemy is saying about the game over at Mavs Moneyball.

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