Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Fantasy Guru - Baseball

NBA Preview: Dallas Mavericks (16-9) at Denver Nuggets (17-10)

The Denver Nuggets know they’re going to get everyone’s best game because they’re the reigning champions, and they found out how it felt Saturday night in a last-second loss to Oklahoma City.

It was only their second home loss in 12 games this season, and they will try to avoid a third when they host the surging Dallas Mavericks Monday night.

Dallas has won five of its past six, including Saturday night’s 131-120 win at Portland. Luka Doncic had a triple-double with 40 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to continue his MVP-caliber season.

It marked his fifth triple-double of the season and 61st of his career, and it was the second time he has scored 40 points in December. Doncic is second in the NBA in scoring with 32.7 points per game while averaging a career-high 36.8 minutes a night.

Doncic’s play Saturday night was needed with the Mavericks not having Kyrie Irving available (right heel contusion) and center Dereck Lively II logging just six minutes before leaving with an ankle sprain.

Dallas was already without Maxi Kleber (dislocated toe) and Josh Green (right elbow strain) and now might not have Lively to help against Nikola Jokic.

Irving is on the current road trip but has worn a walking boot. He will miss his fifth straight game Monday.

The Mavericks will need to be at their best against a Denver team coming off a disappointing loss. The Nuggets led the Thunder by eight late in the fourth quarter, but poor execution down the stretch kept Oklahoma City within reach.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander won it on a jumper with one second remaining. A Denver turnover on the final play sealed the loss.

Monday will be the second of three games between the teams, and Denver would win the season series with a victory. The Nuggets won the first meeting 125-114 on Nov. 3 as part of the NBA in-season tournament.

Doncic isn’t the only player putting up great numbers. Jokic has 10 triple-doubles for the seventh straight season, the first player in NBA history to accomplish that feat. He has 115 regular-season triple-doubles in his career and missed another one by four rebounds against the Thunder.

The Nuggets had won three in a row before Saturday, with Jokic getting plenty of help from the rest of the roster. The bench has averaged 47 points over the past two games, and the return of Jamal Murray has been a boost.

Murray is averaging 18 ppg, though he has missed 14 games due to a right hamstring strain and a sore ankle.

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