Dallas Mavericks (31-22) at Indiana Pacers (40-11)
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Tip: 7:00 p.m. EST
TV: Check local listings
Line: IND -9.0
Tonight should be a good test for the Indiana Pacers as they host the Dallas Mavericks in their last game before All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Dallas poses a test for Indiana because the two teams have not met this season and the Mavericks enter tonight’s game with a winning record as they battle for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. It’ll give the Pacers a chance to play better competition, considering a number of Indiana’s opponents after the All-Star break currently have losing records, as the team moves into the month of March.
Those opponents include Milwaukee twice, the Lakers, Utah, Charlotte, Boston twice and Philadelphia twice. Of those teams, only the Bobcats look as though they could sneak into the playoffs. However, the Indiana Pacers do have 11 road games in March, something that will prove to be challenging toward the end of the season.
It will be important for the Pacers to stay fresh, get off their feet when not focused on basketball and get their minds right as the spring season nears.
As for the Mavericks, the focus for a long time has been and still is forward Dirk Nowitzki. The veteran power forward has plethora of offensive shot fakes, fadeaway jump shots and moves to the basket he can use. David West needs to defend well and make Nowitzki work on the defensive end as well.
Indiana’s backcourt also has to keep an eye on Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon. The two guards have the ability to drive past you for baskets around the rim and dish to their teammates for open perimeter jump shots. They are a dangerous veteran duo, so Lance Stephenson and George Hill must be aware on defense and force those two to defend as well.
Should be a fun matchup tonight, but I envision the Indiana Pacers winning this one, 102-92.