The main focus of this game from the public’s perspective will be about the Mavs’ Rajon Rondo, who was suspended for a game after a heated argument with Coach Rick Carlisle. Rondo will not play against the Hawks and his fit with the team has been always been up for debate since the Mavericks’ early season trade for the Celtics star. His inability to shoot from the outside has hurt the spacing of the otherwise clicking offense. Although winners of three in a row, the Mavs’ (39-20) title hopes are dwindling day by day and Dirk’s championship window seems to be coming to a close.
A team with a lot of promise made no major moves at the deadline. The Atlanta Hawks (44-12) haven’t been stellar as of late (6-4 L10) but they’ve been good enough to maintain their surprising rise to the top of the East. The competition continues to fall away as the Bulls lost Derrick Rose to injury and the Wizards have lost their identity (2-8 L10). The Hawks have what the Mavericks want; an easy conference, an efficient offense (#6 in eff) fueled by passing and shooting, and a top defense (#7 in eff). If only Mark Cuban was so lucky.
Tonight’s game will not feature the Dallas newcomer Amar’e Stoudemire who is out for rest tonight. The Mavericks have been unable to stay healthy as Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons, and Dirk Nowitzki are all Day-To-Day with various injuries. On the other side Jeff Teague was unable to play on Sunday because of illness and his status is up in the air for tonight. Last game against the Bucks, Dennis Schroder was a fine replacement notching 9 assists.
The Mavericks must recapture their early season successes if they are considered to be a contender come playoff time. The Hawks will soon clinch a playoff spot an will soon focus on preparing for the post season. Two teams seemingly going in opposite directions tip off tonight in Atlanta, GA at 7:30.
ATL- 102 DAL – 92