The Mavericks are halfway toward accomplishing their mission on this pre-All-Star break homestand.
They beat the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors last week. They need two more wins this week to go into the break with a little momentum and some hope that they’ll be able to make a playoff push down the stretch.
A quick look at this week’s foes:
Atlanta Hawks, 7:30 p.m. Monday, American Airlines Center: The 27-22 Hawks are a playoff-caliber team, but they’re only 10-13 on the road. Atlanta, which is a main hub of the trade rumor mill, isn’t playing well recently, having lost three of its last four games. On-the-block forward Josh Smith is a box score-stuffer (16.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 2.2 bpg, 1.3 spg) who does opponents a favor by jacking up so many long jumpers. Center Al Horford (15.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg) is a handful. The Hawks sorely miss high-scoring sixth man Lou Williams, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
Sacramento Kings, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, American Airlines Center: The Kings (19-33) have to face the physical Grizzlies in Memphis the previous night, so the schedule certainly works in the Mavs’ favor here. You still shouldn’t just assume that this will be an easy win. The Kings snapped out of a miserable funk this weekend with back-to-back wins over Utah and Houston. Point guard Isaiah Thomas averaged 24 points in that pair of victories. For better or worse, the Kings continue to revolve around enigmatic big man DeMarcus Cousins (17.2 ppg, 10.0 rpg). He averaged 27.0 points on 61.3 shooting in the previous two meetings with the Mavs this season.