The Mavs will continue their campaign to carry on without Dirk tonight in a very important contest tonight. They will face the Nuggets who they have beat once and lost to once so far this season.
More on why this is a big game, how J.R. Smith has been lighting it up lately, and their all-offense, no-defense approach after the jump:
If the Mavs are to make the playoffs, it will come at the expense of the Nuggets. Denver sits at 43-28, which is half a game back from the Warriors for the eighth spot and two games back from the Mavs. With a Nuggets win and Warriors loss tonight, the Nuggets could jump up into the playoff picture and move the Mavs even closer to be on the outside looking in. That will mean that their next three games (two of which are against the Warriors) will also be crucial. If the Mavs can beat the Nuggets tonight and the Warriors can also win, it will give Golden State a little breathing room. It's been shown that the Warriors can do some incredible things with their backs to the wall against the Dallas boys, so the Mavs would be wise to give them a little wiggle room against Denver in the standings (in addition to keeping their own hides from moving out of the playoffs).
Smith tearing it up lately
Usually inconsistent guard J.R. Smith has been playing well lately and provides the athletic outside scoring threat that the Nuggets have been needing all season. In his last 10 games, he's averaged 14.7 points and is shooting 51.4 percent from the floor. That shooting percentage is even more impressive considering that more than half of his attempts are coming from three-point range. In the Nuggets last game, Smith had 27 points and was 7-12 from long range, and that means the Mavs need to pay special attention to him when he's on the floor.
Still scoring, still not defending
The Nuggets are 26th in the league in defense and have held only one team to under 100 points in their last ten games. But, they have the highest scoring duo in the NBA in Carmelo Anthony an Allen Iverson and are third in offense, ranking barely behind Golden State and Phoenix. They have made no bones about their attempts to outscore their opponents in trying to get wins, and they aren't wavering. Expect a high scoring affair tonight...from at least one team.
How far can you really get without playing a lick of defense?