Saturday, September 24, 2022
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Preview: Dallas Mavericks (48-29) at Washington Wizards (33-43)

The streaking Dallas Mavericks continue a four-game road swing on Friday, seeking their sixth win in their last seven when they visit the Washington Wizards.

Dallas (48-29) opened its final road trip of the regular season on Wednesday with a 120-112 defeat of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Luka Doncic came one rebound shy of a triple-double, adding nine rebounds to his game-highs of 35 points and 13 assists.

Dorian Finney-Smith knocked down 6-of-12 3-pointers and finished with 28 points while Jalen Brunson added 18 points in the win.

The decision officially clinched a playoff berth for the Mavericks, and coupled with Golden State’s ongoing losing skid, elevated Dallas to third place in the Western Conference through games played Wednesday.

“Going into Washington,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said in his postgame press conference. “I’ll talk more with the staff about the timing of starting to talk about home court.”

Kidd added that securing a home-court advantage for the opening round is “probably where we’ll start and end here in the next couple of days, because we can’t start watching the scoreboard and seeing who’s winning and who’s losing.”

Washington (33-43), meanwhile, faces almost certain elimination from the Eastern Conference’s play-in round. The Wizards come into Friday’s matchup winners in three of their last four, including a 127-110 rout of Orlando on Wednesday, but trail the 10th-place Atlanta Hawks by six games with six remaining on Washington’s schedule.

An Atlanta win over Cleveland on Thursday would officially eliminate the Wizards.

Despite the unlikelihood of making the postseason, Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. said in Wednesday’s postgame press conference that his team’s success over this recent stretch is the result of “more urgency in everything we’re doing.”

That urgency has been reflected in the play of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, whose 25-point effort against Orlando marked his third consecutive game with at least 20 points.

Likewise, Kristaps Porzingis scored 30-plus points for the second time in the last four games, hitting for a season-high 35 on Wednesday. Since entering the Wizards’ rotation on March 6, Porzingis has recorded five double-doubles and seven games of 22 points or more.

Friday is Porzingis’ first meeting against his former team. Dallas traded Porzingis in February for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans.

Dinwiddie sat Wednesday but has scored in double-figures in his last 16 consecutive appearances. He has been a scoring spark plug, averaging 17.2 points per game primarily coming off the Mavericks’ bench.

Dinwiddie’s scoring efficiency since joining the Dallas roster gives the Mavericks options to complement Doncic’s 28.1 points per game. Dinwiddie continues the scoring punch Dallas gets on the perimeter from Brunson, who has a streak of 10 consecutive games scoring in double-figures coming into Washington.

The Wizards held Brunson to just eight points the other time the teams met this season, albeit back on Nov. 27, long before the trade. Porzingis had 13 points and seven rebounds on the losing side in that contest.

“It’s going to be interesting. It’s going to be fun, I think,” Porzingis said of facing his former team to NBC Sports Washington. “Dallas is one of the best teams in the league. They’re playing really well lately.”

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