Mavericks-Bulls Preview

Dallas Mavericks Status Check:
Record: 7-8
Division: 0-0
Conference: 2-4
Road Record: 2-5
Last 10 Games: 3-7
Streak: Lost 2
Last game: 100-98 loss to Philadelphia
PPG: 100.7 (6th)
Opponents PPG: 101.5 (28th)
Offensive Rating: 105.2 (15th)
Defensive Rating: 106.1 (21st)
Pace: 94.4 (3rd)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .505 (8th)
Turnover Percentage: .142 (15th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .708 (26th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .213 (29th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .218 (13th)
Opp. eFG%: .484 (14th)
Opp. TO%: .130 (24th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .240 (24th)
Leading scorer: O.J. Mayo (20.0)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Mavericks Injury Report:
Dirk Nowitzki: out (knee)

Overview:
Two teams struggling without their stars (Dirk Nowitzki is still out after having knee surgery) face off as Chicago can take their first step away from that terrible loss tonight when the Mavericks visit town. Luckily for the Bulls starters, Chicago had a day off between games, because they are probably in line for a lot of minutes again tonight.

Coming to Chicago to play used to be something to fear for opponents. The Bulls were 26-7 last season at home and 36-5 in 2010-2011. So far this year, they are just 3-4 in the United Center in the early going. Dallas hasn’t been performing well away from home though, as they are 2-5 on the road this year.

The Mavs are also on the second night of a back-to-back, after losing to the Sixers by two. Dallas was 13-9 last season playing on no rest. That was the seventh best winning percentage on the second night of back-to-backs. They are 1-2 on those types of games this year.

Chris Kaman went 9-13 for 20 points and Elton Brand added 17 points off the bench against his former team as Dallas fell in Philly. Shawn Marion added 17 points and eight rebounds, while O.J. Mayo chipped in 11 points, well below his season average of 20, along with five boards and seven assists. Dallas committed eight turnovers in the fourth quarter.

Chicago’s next game comes against the Sixers on Saturday night.

The Bulls seem to be getting the Mavs at the right time. Dallas is 3-7 over their last ten games, and has dropped two straight, after starting the season 4-1. They are 21st in defensive rating, allowing 106.1 points per 100 possessions. Their offense is right in the middle of the NBA, with a 105.2 offensive rating that puts them at 15th.

But the real Mavs’ weakness is rebounding. They rank 26th in defensive rebounding rate (.708) and 29th in offensive rebounding rate (.213). Chicago should own the glass tonight, having just gone up against one of the better rebounding teams in the league.

The Bulls pulled down 34 O-boards over the two games against Milwaukee and had 18 more rebounds overall than the Bucks.

According to Stats LLC, the Bulls have out-rebounded the Mavs 52.0 to39.3 over the last three meetings. The Bulls won all three of those matchups.

Chicago needs all the extra opportunities it can get, as it has fallen to 26th in effective field goal percentage (.458).

But there are things to build off for the Bulls, even if it was a really disappointing final 18-or-so minutes. Rip Hamilton scored 30 points for the first time as a Bull. It was the first time Rip scored 30 in a game since he scored that many against the Bulls in April 2011 as a member of the Pistons.

Carlos Boozer has also put together to straight good games. Maybe he likes playing against the Bucks, but Boozer went for 22 and 19 in Saturday night’s win and then 19 and 11 on Monday. He shot 19-34 over the two games. And with that production his minutes jumped to 37.5 over the two games against Milwaukee. He’s averaging 30.3 minutes per game this season.

Boozington isn’t the only starter that is getting extra minutes. Deng sat for 42 seconds the entire game on Monday. It’s become clear Thibs doesn’t trust the bench, but Deng cannot play those types of minutes in which the Bulls, at one point, had a 27 point lead. When it’s a 20 point game, maybe sit Deng down for three minutes. His body will break down if he plays this many minutes.

That being said, there isn’t much to work with on this bench. Marco Belinelli and Nazr Mohammed have fallen out of favor faster than their shooting percentages. And that leads Thibs with Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Nate Robinson off the bench. It isn’t much, but it’s all they have to work with.

Including tonight the Bulls have five winnable games coming up. They play Philly, Indy, Cleveland and Detroit over their next five. Philly doesn’t have Andrew Bynum, Indy doesn’t have Danny Granger, Cleveland doesn’t have Kyrie Irving and Detroit doesn’t have anybody.

If the Bulls want to reel off some wins, now would be a good time to start, before their schedule gets tougher in mid-December.

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