Two Western Conference favorites face off on Thursday evening when the Dallas Mavericks travel to play the Denver Nuggets. Both teams share 3-4 records, having begun the season with stuttering offenses. The Nuggets have the third-worst defensive rating in the league, which should even up this game considering the Mavs will continue to be without star center Kristaps Porzingis.
The Dallas Mavericks have had an inconsistent start to the 2020-21 NBA season, though they have faced some of the league's elite teams in a tough schedule. In their last outing, they overcame the Houston Rockets on the road, led by Luka Doncic's 33 points and 16 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets won two games against the Minnesota Timberwolves coming into this game, and will be expected to push up the Western Conference standings as they begin Week 3.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Denver Nuggets Prediction: Combined starting 5
The Dallas Mavericks have struggled against lottery squads in the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls while also demolishing the LA Clippers and impressing against last year's finalists, the Miami Heat.
Luka Doncic has led by example, though the young guard will require additional support if the Mavs are to come out of their Porzingis-less period above .500.
Denver possesses more pieces that can hurt the Mavericks and will be seeking to tie up their NBA record.
Jokic has been performing at an MVP standard and is a mismatch for most bigs across the league. The Denver Nuggets' supporting cast has yet to find their playoff flow, which they enjoyed in 2020.
Here is our combined starting five from the Dallas Mavericks vs Denver Nuggets matchup.
Point Guard - Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)
Luka Doncic has been the Dallas Mavericks' knight in shining armor since his move to the NBA from Europe. The young superstar has completely transformed the franchise's hopes of success and made them contenders in the West. Dallas will be able to utilize Doncic's ability and age to lure further talent in the future, which, on the face of this season, they may have to do.
The Mavs have shown inconsistency so far on offense without Kristaps Porzingis, therefore Luka has had to do his best to carry his side's threat. Doncic is averaging 25.8 points, 9 rebounds and 7.2 assists and recorded his first triple-double on Monday.
Luka will be among the favorites for MVP this season. The Slovenian is unguardable at times and offers all-round quality on the floor. Although he will not be playing for the best side in the league, Doncic's name is set to be among the top 3 candidates.
Shooting Guard - Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets)
Although primarily a point guard, Murray spent his first season with the Denver Nuggets in the other guard spot before making the switch and is too pivotal to the Nuggets to leave out. The 23-year-old caught the eye of NBA fans with his explosive performances in last season's playoffs, helping his side overcome two 3-1 series deficits.
Jamal Murray has continued his form from the bubble into the 2020-21 NBA season, scoring a career-high 22.2 points. With his age, there will be some inconsistency. However, if his 36-point haul in Minnesota is anything to go by, he and his team will continue to improve as the season goes on.