When they last met three weeks ago, the Dallas Mavericks were in the middle of an untimely swoon while the Detroit Pistons had begun to make their climb in the playoff race.
Looking to win three straight for the second time since December, the Mavericks try to move back into postseason position with their fifth straight road victory over the surging Pistons on Friday night.
Dallas was in the midst of a season-high five-game losing streak and 2-10 stretch that pushed it out of the playoff picture when it suffered a 102-96 home defeat to Detroit on March 9.
The Mavericks will certainly need a better game plan this time against big man Andre Drummond, who has averaged 20.0 rebounds in the past three meetings. The All-Star led the way with 25 points and 17 boards March 9 while the Pistons finished with a 51-40 advantage on the glass.
At that time, Detroit was eight games into its current 13-6 push that has taken it from 2 1/2 games out of a playoff spot to seventh in the East. The club won for the sixth time in seven games Tuesday, holding Oklahoma City to 37.8 percent shooting on the way to an 88-82 home victory.
"To go into seventh place is huge," forward Marcus Morris, who has averaged 18.6 points over his last five games, told the team's official website. "Got Dallas coming in, then we got a big back to back versus Chicago. Those are two big games, maybe two of the biggest games all year."
Morris led the way with 24 points and seven rebounds Tuesday while Drummond posted his league-leading 62nd double-double with 13 and 15.
Detroit (40-35), though, has shot 38.3 percent overall and gone 11 for 48 from 3-point range over its last two games after averaging 111.0 points during a 5-1 start to this nine-game homestand.
Dallas (37-38) looks to continue its tight defensive play after limiting opponents to 88.5 points per game and 29.3 percent shooting from 3-point range in back-to-back victories. The Mavericks had surrendered 124.0 points and 43.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc over their previous five.
J.J. Barea scored 26 points and made the go-ahead layup with 49.9 seconds left in Wednesday's 91-89 home win over New York. The reserve guard has stepped up for short-handed Dallas, averaging 19.8 points while sinking 12 of 23 of his 3s in his past four games.
''I've always been aggressive as a player,'' Barea said after helping the Mavericks close the game on a 22-11 run. ''Now, I know I'm going to have to get more minutes.''
Among three teams in a tight battle for the West's final two playoff spots, the Mavericks seek their first three-game winning streak since Feb. 26-March 1. They're likely to be down two starters for a fifth consecutive contest with Chandler Parsons out following season-ending knee surgery and Deron Williams nursing an abdominal strain.
Dirk Nowitzki has struggled to pick up the slack offensively, totaling 21 points on 9-of-40 shooting in his last two games. He played well with 25 points and 10 rebounds in the first meeting with the Pistons.
''Now I'm 9 for (40), and we're 2-0,'' Nowitzki said. ''I'd rather have the two wins.''
Dallas has lost the last two matchups but has won a franchise-best four in a row at Detroit.