The Mavs will probably have some big problems in Memphis.
That would likely be the case against the Southwest Division-leading Grizzlies regardless of the circumstances. However, it certainly doesn’t help matters that the Mavs will face Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol with a depleted frontcourt, as Dirk Nowitzki isn’t ready to make his season debut and Elton Brand and Brandan Wright are likely to miss another game due to injuries.
The schedule also doesn’t help the Mavs, who are playing the butt end of a back-to-back after being blown out by the Miami Heat on Thursday night. It’s tough enough to win in Memphis, where the Grizzlies are 11-2 this season, without arriving at the airport at approximately 2 a.m.
Records: Mavs (12-14); Sixers (12-12)
When: 7:00 p.m.
Where: FedEx Forum
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: It could get especially brutal on the boards. The Mavs rank last in the NBA in rebounding margin (minus-4.7 per game). The Grizzlies rank fifth (plus-3.9). Randolph has the potential to dominate Dallas in this department. He ranks second in the NBA with an average of 12.9 rebounds per game. With the 6-foot-9, 255-pound Randolph around, a missed shot by Memphis might as well be an assist in many instances.
Key matchup: O.J. Mayo vs. Tony Allen – There’s some history here. Allen replaced Mayo in Memphis’ starting lineup, and they infamously fought over a gambling debt on the team plane. The Mavs need Mayo to be great to have any realistic hope of beating the Grizzlies. He has averaged 25.2 points on 55.5 percent shooting in the Mavs’ wins, compared to 15.9 points on 40.1 percent shooting in their losses. Allen is considered the NBA’s best shutdown shooting guard, having been voted to the All-Defensive team the last two seasons.
Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) and Derek Fisher (knee) are out. F/C Brandan Wright (ankle) and F/C Elton Brand (groin) are day-to-day but not expected to play. Grizzlies – None.
Up next: at San Antonio Spurs, 6 p.m. Sunday