It’s strange to think that any team with a 28-14 record is underachieving. However, the Warriors have set such high standards over the last 5 years that it makes it seem they are struggling. The reality is they went through the annual Stephon Curry injury episode and came out with some battle wounds. With all four all-stars on the court, they are still the best team in the NBA. They rank #1 in the league in scoring (117 PPG) and FG percentage (48.7%, 38.3% from 3-point range). On the season, the Warriors are 11-8 on the road, certainly below the team’s standards. The offense is led by G Curry (28.8 PPG), F Kevin Durant (28.2 PPG) and G Klay Thompson (21.1 PPG). It’s notable that the supporting cast has not been as effective as in the past.
The Dallas Mavericks are coming off a huge road win over Minnesota 119-115. The win was only Dallas’s 4th road win of the season. The hope is the win will help the team overcome its recent struggles that had seen the team go 4-11 in its prior 15 games. Of course, inconsistency can be expected from a young team. Speaking of youth, the 19-year-old Luca Doncic is playing well beyond his years. In this his rookie season, Doncic is leading the Mavs in scoring at 20.0 PPG. With Dirk Nowitski retiring at the end of the year, Dallas has to feel satisfied they have found an ample replacement. Harrison Barnes is 2nd on the team in scoring at 18.1 PPG. If this young team finds some consistency, they could make some noise in the playoffs.
Prediction: When these teams last met in December, the Warriors were fortunate to escape with a narrow 120-116 with Curry on the sidelines. It’s hard to imagine these two teams won’t put a little pace up in this game with Curry back in the lineup. Play over 229.5 (score – Golden State 129-115)