Mavericks-Heat Preview

Despite several factors falling in their favor in a victory over the NBA's best team, the Dallas Mavericks - point guard J.J. Barea in particular - have to be feeling good about their recent play.

Coming off a romp against defending champion Golden State, the Mavericks will try to extend their winning streak to five when they visit the Miami Heat on Friday night.

Starting with a victory over Memphis on Dec. 18, Dallas (19-13) has won five of six to climb into second place in the Southwest Division - though that still leaves the club eight games behind 28-6 San Antonio.

Things worked out perfectly Wednesday when star Warriors guard Stephen Curry sat out with a bruised lower left leg. With Curry's backcourt mate Klay Thompson struggling and the Mavs enjoying one of their best shooting nights, the result was a 114-91 win that marked only the third time Golden State has failed to score 100 points this season.

Dallas had dropped the prior seven meetings while allowing 112.1 per game.

"They were a little short-handed tonight. Might have made a little difference," guard Devin Harris said. "The attention that (Curry) brings in shotmaking and the way the offense flows with him out there, obviously was a little bit different tonight."

The Mavs allowed the Warriors to shoot just 40.7 percent while converting 51.2 percent of their own shots and 14 of 27 from 3-point range. They had a 46-26 scoring edge in the paint and even outworked up-tempo Golden State 21-18 on the break.

Again, though, all without Curry, whose absence played a role in his team's struggles but can't explain away the strong offensive work of Dallas behind Barea, who scored 23 points in another big game filling in for injured starter Deron Williams.

Williams has missed two games with a strained hamstring and it's unclear if he will play in this contest, but with Barea at the point, the Mavs have averaged 113.5 points over their last four - roughly 13 more than their 100.6 average prior to the streak.

Barea has been fantastic in that span, shooting 63 percent overall and 18 of 36 from 3-point range. Although Barea's assist total is 27 in his starts, the Dallas offense seems to be flowing better and has posted at least 25 twice in the last four games.

"J.J.'s been great, shooting the ball incredibly well but taking good shots," Harris said after Barea went 5 of 7 from beyond the arc Wednesday.

Sustaining that surge could hit a bump against the Heat (18-13), who sit among the NBA leaders in points (95.5) and field-goal percentage (43.1) allowed per game. Miami, though, has stumbled with a 3-3 mark while allowing 100.2 per game in its last six.

The Heat tightened things up considerably against the Grizzlies on Wednesday, allowing 83 points through regulation, but they were outscored 16-7 in overtime of a 99-90 loss. Chris Bosh scored 22 but was 3 of 14 after halftime and Dwyane Wade added 19.

"We showed some grit to get to that point," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Then we had a couple of decent looks at the end of regulation and just couldn't put them down."

The Mavs had lost seven consecutive meetings before a 93-72 victory Jan. 30 in Miami which both Wade and Luol Deng missed with injuries. Prior to that, the Mavs went 20-2 in the regular-season series from 2001-2010.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.