Western Conference rivals Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Pelicans face off at Smoothie King Arena tonight in an enticing 2020-21 NBA season matchup. In their previous encounter, the Mavericks beat the Pelicans 143-130 earlier in the season.
The Dallas Mavericks' form has been indifferent lately as they head into this matchup on the back of a 94-104 loss against the Indiana Pacers. Kristaps Porzingis led the Mavericks with 31 points and 18 rebounds as Luka Doncic sat the game out due to back tightness.
The New Orleans Pelicans, like their opponents, have also been inconsistent of late. They lost their last game against the Denver Nuggets 108-113, where Zion Williamson had 39 points on the night as Lonzo Ball missed his third straight game for the side.
Dallas Mavericks vs. New Orleans Pelicans - Prediction
The Dallas Mavericks haven't been able to gain the kind of momentum they were hoping for post the All-Star break, winning five and losing four games in the process. The Mavericks are currently placed seventh in the West standings with a 23-20 season record and will be aiming to avoid the play-in tournament and qualify for the playoffs directly.
The New Orleans Pelicans, on the other hand, have struggled to find consistency all season and are now ranked 12th in the West standings as a result. However, they do have the potential to do better in the coming weeks but do not have enough time to recover, and need to win as many games as possible from here on to have a shot at qualifying for the playoffs this year.
Considering the two teams' recent form, they do seem evenly matched, but their performances throughout the season are where the Dallas Mavericks hold the edge over the New Orleans Pelicans. That said, the Mavericks will head into the matchup as the favorites to win, provided Luka Doncic is cleared to play as he is currently listed as questionable due to a back problem.
Dallas Mavericks vs. New Orleans Pelicans - Combined 5
Point Guard - Luka Doncic | Shooting Guard - Josh Richardson | Small Forward - Brandon Ingram | Power Forward - Zion Williamson | Center - Steven Adams
In our combined five for this game, we have picked Luka Doncic and Josh Richardson of the Dallas Mavericks as the two guards. Lonzo Ball could've easily been one of the guards here, provided he was available for the matchup, which could have seen Doncic play as the shooting guard instead.
Doncic is the best backcourt player in the pool of available guards between the two teams. The Slovenian is having an MVP caliber campaign, in what is just his third season in the NBA. He is averaging 28.6 points, a career-high 9.1 assists, and 8.3 rebounds per game so far. The Dallas Mavericks' Josh Richardson, on the other hand, edged out his counterpart Eric Bledsoe due to his better averages this season.
For the two forward positions in our combined five lineup, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson occupy two of the three front-court spots. Zion is leading the scoring averages for the New Orleans Pelicans with 26 points per game, while Ingram is second behind him with 23.9 points per game. The duo have formed a terrific partnership along with Lonzo Ball this season and have helped the Pelicans become one of the league's better offenses.
The center position in our lineup is occupied by Steven Adams as Kristaps Porzingis, who played 38 minutes in the Mavs' last game, seems uncertain to feature on the second night of a back-to-back. The Dallas Mavericks have been cautious with Porzingis this season due to his injury history. With Porzingis out of the picture, New Orleans Pelicans veteran Steven Adams is the only true center available for the matchup and his season averages are superior to his potential counterpart Maxi Kleber.