The Dallas Mavericks will attempt to improve their defense in a "top-10'' way when they face the Indiana Pacers at 3 p.m. Sunday in the second preseason game/scrimmage for both clubs in Orlando's NBA bubble.
The Mavs are coming off a 108-104 scrimmage win over the Los Angeles Lakers; the Pacers on Thursday topped Portland, 91-88.
NUMBER TO KNOW: The Mavericks are on pace to have the best offensive efficiency rating in NBA history. But coach Rick Carlisle is harping on defensive improvement - hoping to catch up on that end of the floor.
"We’re a good defensive team,'' Carlisle said. "I don’t think we’re bad. We’re ranked about average – and we got to be above average and work to get into top 10 to be one of those teams that’s really in the hunt.”
THE MATCHUP: The East's No. 5 seed has a deep bench but also has personnel question marks. One is Victor Oladipo; the two-time All-Star scored eight points on 3-of-10 shooting and pulled down six rebounds but said afterward he still has not made a final decision on whether or not he will play when the Pacers season resumes on Aug. 1.
(Something odd might be going on there, and yes, if you are a Mavs fan dreaming about acquiring talent, that's another good reason to pay attention here.)
Another is Domanas Sabonis, who has sustained a foot injury and is out. Center Myles Turner didn't play on Thursday due to injury but could return.
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"Wish upon a star,'' indeed, as Luka Doncic does play, despite his sprained knee and sprained ankle clearly being something short of 100 percent.
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Luka or not, others are trying to step up. But there is only one Doncic.
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Currently on a three-game losing streak, the Dallas Mavericks are in desperate need of someone other than Kristaps Porzingis and Jalen Brunson to contribute.
FORMAT: Each of the 22 teams involved in the NBA restart will play three scrimmage games. The rules for the first scrimmage were tweaked, adjusting to 10-minute quarters instead of the usual 12 minutes. The second and third scrimmage games at Disney will, as presently planned, use standard timing.
Score and statistics will be kept and provide the NBA’s stat crews that were hired to work for three months at Disney a trial run before regular season resumes.
OFFENSIVE CHEMISTRY: Mavs stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis have never played in an NBA playoff game. But they've been highly effective together, as since Jan. 1, they have produced an offensive rating of 116.7 while sharing the floor. On Thursday, their work was supplemented by Seth Curry's game-high 23 points (as he "pitched a perfect game'') and by the work of third-string center Boban Marjanovic.
QUOTABLE: “My teammates trust me. If I play, don’t play, I still think I’m a big part because of the positive energy and what you are available to do. When I play, I try to do my best to help my team. And when I’m on the bench, I try to help my team. I understand (my role). It’s not about one player and how he plays. It’s about how the team plays.” - Boban Marjanovic.
Game Time: 3 p.m. CT
Location: Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando
TV/Radio: NBA TV, Mavs.com, ESPN 103.3 FM
Records: Mavericks (40-27, 7th in the West), Pacers (39-26, 5th in the East)